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Ramsey Report

The Clarke County Attorney joins calls of other Iowa prosecutors in support of legislation that would allow expert testimony in domestic violence and sexual assault cases. County Attorney Ramsey cites the disturbingly high volume of domestic abuse cases in Clarke County and the challenges of prosecuting them. Jurors ultimately evaluate the credibility of witnesses. However, prosecutors remain hopeful that expert testimony can be used to address misconceptions about victims and help jurors better understand the typical cycles of domestic violence, why the victims may inordinately blame themselves, and how a victim/witnesses’ demeanor when they testify can be affected by the trauma they have experienced.

First Assistant Linn County Attorney, Nick Maybanks, recently announced he would be proposing legislation that would clarify that expert testimony is allowed to address what he described as “dangerous” misconceptions about how victims should act and report crimes. While Maybanks asserts that some progress has been made over the years in getting jurors to understand that while assault survivors may not react by crying but that they nonetheless have psychological scars. “There is so much victim bias—about how they are supposed to act or behave and blaming the victim,” Maybanks is quoted as saying in a recent news article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Maybanks also mentions the recurring prosecution challenges such as that the victim is often the only witness to the assault (thus corroboration is not available) and that the victim is typically reluctant or completely unwilling to testify against their abuser.

In terms of January’s workload, 8 Felony cases came in and 6 were disposed. Felony cases are the most serious of criminal cases. The State’s case tracking system reflects total of 94 pending felony cases for Clarke County.

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 January, 15 Indictable Misdemeanors came in and 23 were disposed. The State’s case tracking system reflects that the pending number is down from 191 to 179.

In January, 278 Simple Misdemeanors came in and 304 were disposed. The State’s case tracking system reflects that the number of pending Simple Misdemeanors is down from 559 to 498. The Clarke County Attorney’s Office participated in 4 depositions on criminal matters in January. In January the County Attorney litigated 1 Jury trial, 1 bench trial and1 suppression motion.

In January, the Clarke County Attorney’s Office Juvenile case load included 4 new Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) cases with 5 disposed. The State’s case tracking system reflects 98 CINA (& other) cases and 113 total pending Juvenile cases. In January there were 3 hearings on contested Juvenile matters. 1 Juvenile Delinquency cases came in and 1 case was disposed of. The State’s case tracking system rests at 15 total pending Juvenile Delinquency cases.

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