I read your story on Monday (Jan. 11) about my first year in office and compliment Mr. Roberts on a well-written article. However, I am writing to clarify my response to criticisms from unnamed defense attorneys that my office is too “inflexible” in offering “deals”to offenders. The fact is there are fewer “deals” because my office has in place new procedures aimed at treating offenders based on the merits of their cases, rather than the connections of their lawyers.
Specifically, I established an enhanced Screening Division to evaluate cases more thoroughly. As a result, weak cases that are not prosecutable (those where my office is unable to meet its burden of proof) are weeded out from the beginning. This prevents individuals from sitting in jail unnecessarily but also reduces opportunities for defense attorneys to make what they may consider great “deals” for their clients.
As for the use of the state’s habitual offender statute to increase the sentences of defendants with multiple convictions, it is my philosophy that repeat offenders should receive more severe punishment. Such punishment should be just, predictable and serve as an added deterrent to future criminal conduct. That said, my office remains committed to using our Pre-trial Intervention Program (Diversion) and the specialty courts to give second chances and offer appropriate drug and mental health treatment, counseling, job training and more.
Finally, I am very proud to have assembled a highly ethical, highly competent and highly professional team. Fortunately for my constituents, that includes some “hard-line”former federal prosecutors.
district attorney, 22nd Judicial District