On Friday, the office released various statistics, including the number of felony cases filed this year compared to last year and how much money jurors received in 2012.
County & District Attorney Micheal Jimerson said when he first got elected, he did what he saw a lot of other district attorney offices do — provide a year-end synopsis.
He spoke to local groups such as the Kiwanis and Lions clubs, and informed residents of the statistics.
However, it got to be more of a “raw-raw session” and “look at how great we are,” Jimerson said. So he stopped doing it.
But now he said he’s trying to do the same thing his office used to as an information source for residents.
“The big thing I got attacked on (during the re-election campaign last fall) was that we were (wasting) juries, so I thought ‘Let’s put out the numbers,’ and these were the quickest,” Jimerson said.
He added in a news release, “I reviewed the numbers and was shocked to discover the fee paid for a court-appointed plea had more than doubled in the eight years that I have been in office. The county attorney neither pays nor approves fees for jurors or court-appointed lawyers. However, I am a great proponent of open records and open meetings because such transparency has reduced abuses..”
For instance, there weren’t as many felony jury trials in 2011 — six last year compared to 11 this year — but last year’s trials were longer and had more trial days, meaning more money paid to jurors in 2011, Jimerson said.
Statistics also show that the number of felony cases filed went from 273 in 2011 to 328 in 2012 while the number of misdemeanor cases filed went from 656 to 705.
Jimerson attributed the case increase to more theft and property crimes. He said in his opinion, more people are committing thefts to feed addictions.
“We caught a pair of thieves not long ago. Just a pair can do a tremendous amount of burglaries. It’s (also) hard to catch. (Burglars) will go in a home during the day and won’t leave things that are identifiable,” he said.
Jimerson said there aren’t a lot of changes planned for his office because of the statistics he released.
However, he said he wants his office to work with new Rusk County sheriff-elect Jeff Price and the sheriff’s office criminal investigations division more closely to re-double efforts on property crimes.
His office also plans to move to a different model when it comes to misdemeanors.
Jimerson said a case was previously sent to his office, where it went through intake and processing, and a complaint was sworn out. The clerk would then prepare a warrant, and the judge would issue it. But now an officer will prepare an affidavit, turn it into the judge and get a warrant issued, Jimerson said.
“It just streamlines the process,” he said.
Additionally, Jimerson said his office is trying to highlight other things it does besides high-profile felonies such as cases involving child protective services. He commended Judge Robin Sage of Child Protective Service Court in a news release for her efforts with taxpayer money and defending rights for children and parents.
Jimerson will be sworn in for another term next week in the new Rusk County courtroom, where those cases are heard.