SHELDON—Law and order matter a lot to Rachael Becker.
The Sheldon woman officially became the O’Brien County attorney on Jan. 1 after being elected in November and — after serving in the position part time for a month — took on the role full time on Feb. 1.
“I am honored that there were people who voted for me and put their faith in me to uphold the law in O’Brien County and that is what I intend to do for the foreseeable future,” Becker said.
The 34-year-old has been busy since taking over the position from Micah Schreurs of Sheldon, who chose not to run for re-election last fall to the role he had held since January 2011.
“I’m getting a lot more comfortable with it — more comfortable with making the final decisions,” Becker said. “For the most part, I enjoy the work.
“I’ve always enjoyed the law,” she said. “I like knowing what it is and what you can and can’t do. It’s a puzzle a lot of times, to me — how do things fit together and work together?”
Before taking over as the county attorney, she had been a part-time assistant county attorney who worked for Schreurs and primarily handled misdemeanor court cases and mental health hearings.
“Without having done that, I don’t think I would’ve run for county attorney,” Becker said. “That would’ve been a very daunting task.”
She credits Schreurs for preparing her to take over as the county attorney.
The office is based in Sheldon, but she often can be found working at the county courthouse in Primghar.
“It was helpful because it allowed me to get to know everyone that works in our office, in the courthouse,” Becker said. “With being his assistant, it helped me to understand the different philosophies in what we should have in place if you going to be a prosecutor.”
She wants to make sure the county attorney’s office continues to be as fair as possible in the criminal cases it prosecutes.
“One of the things he taught me as well with being fair is that you need to know — in your own mind — how you want to proceed on certain cases,” Becker said. “When you make an offer, it needs to be fair.”
The county attorney’s office has what she calls a “standard offer” for defendants in the kinds of criminal cases it sees most often, which are operating while under the influence, possession of a controlled substance and domestic abuse.
“If I’m making an offer to someone for something, I should have the same offer for everyone, if we have a standard offer, which we usually do,” Becker said. “We only deviate if I can articulate a reason as to why this is different from every other case of a similar nature.”
As the county attorney, Becker mostly is in charge of serious and aggravated misdemeanor cases as well as felony cases while part-time assistant county attorney Katie Morgan primarily handles juvenile and simple misdemeanor cases.
“I had to get more familiar with dealing with district court,” Becker said. “That was something I didn’t handle before. District court is where you hear the felony cases.”
They help each other out however, whenever and wherever they can to make sure the attorney’s office is running as efficiently and smoothly as possible.
In her role, Becker oversees Morgan, full-time legal assistant and office manager Jillian Jager and full-time legal assistant and fine collections representative Nicole Steele.
“I do a portion of what my job was before, plus Micah’s — that portion of my job before being district associate court,” Becker said. “Those are the aggravated misdemeanors and the serious misdemeanors.
“The level of the crime determines which court you’re in,” she said. “If it’s a simple, you’re in magistrate court; if it’s a serious or an aggravated, you in district associate court; and if it’s a felony, then you’re in district court.”
The Rochelle, GA, native mentioned the main reason why she has worked in the county attorney’s office since May 2017 and wanted to be elected as its new leader in November.
“I enjoy having the opportunity to keep our county safe, to uphold the law,” Becker said. “I do try to be fair and reasonable and to show mercy or grace whenever it seems necessary.”