In the month of November, the Clarke County Attorney’s Office saw increases in pending case balances in all categories. The Office litigated several contested matters including one case where the office was assisting the Sheriff’s Office to obtain reimbursement for jail fees and medical expenses over the resistance of a Defendant’s Attorney. The Iowa Code authorizes the Sheriff to pursue reimbursement for the costs of housing prisoners and their medical expenses rather than pass these costs on to the taxpayers.
In November, the County Attorney’s Office also worked with the Clarke County Clerk of Court and the Clarke County Auditor to obtain revenue data related to the amount of criminal fine revenue that makes it back to Clarke County. A portion of the criminal fine revenue is returned to Clarke County from the State’s General Fund. This revenue helps the County cover the costs of the administration of justice. What we have learned is that for this fiscal year cycle, fine revenues are projected to be 48 percent higher than the last fiscal year cycle. This increase is attributable to our efforts to make the amount of fines (within the statutory range) something that is considered during the plea process. Rather than assuming that every criminal Defendant should pay only the minimum fine, we analyze facts and circumstances of each case. The 48 percent increase does not reflect the entire benefit to the county funds because most Defendant’s with fines over $300 request an interest free payment plan that involves $50 a month payments. As such, the increases to fine revenue are likely to continue to provide revenue to Clarke County for years to come. The increases in fine revenue in entirely separate and distinct from our new efforts to collect delinquent court debt for Clarke County. On that front, we also have good news for the taxpayers. In five months of operating the program, we have met the two year benchmark set by the State to retain the program. Though the collecting delinquent debt is time consuming and labor intensive, all indications are that it will bring in substantially more revenue than it costs to administer. Although collection of delinquent debt is to some degree a unpleasant task, we use it as an opportunity to help people set up payment plans and to regain their driver’s license if it has been suspended for the delinquent debt.
In terms of November’s workload, 10 Felony cases came in and 5 were disposed. Felony cases are the most serious of criminal cases. The State’s case tracking system reflects total of 92 pending felony cases for Clarke County (up from October’s balance of 87).
Indictable Misdemeanors are Misdemeanor crimes that are punishable by more than a year but no more than two years of incarceration. Misdemeanor crimes are categorized as Aggravated, Serious, and Simple. Aggravated Misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanors and can be punished by up to two years in prison. Serious Misdemeanor crimes are punishable by up to one year in the County Jail. Simple Misdemeanor crimes are punishable by up to 30 days in the county jail. As you can imagine, fines increase with the severity of the crime.
In November, 17 Indictable Misdemeanors came in and 15 were disposed. The State’s case tracking system reflects that the pending number increased from 190 cases from 188.
In November, 377 Simple Misdemeanors came in and 337 were disposed. The State’s case tracking system reflects that the number of pending Simple Misdemeanors is up to 572 from 531.
In November, the Clarke County Attorney’s Office Juvenile case load included 3 new Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) cases with 2 disposed. The State’s case tracking system reflects 84 CINA (& other) cases and 99 total pending Juvenile cases.
In November, 1 Juvenile Delinquency cases came in and 4 cases were disposed of. The State’s case tracking system rests at 15 total pending Juvenile Delinquency cases. The County Attorney’s Office did conduct a mediation with the parents of several juveniles that have been having severe attendance and tardiness issues. The Iowa Code holds the parents criminally responsible in this situation but our office makes every effort to restore attendance without resorting to criminal sanctions. In the month of November the Office defended 5 criminal depositions.