Crimes of all types are continuing to increase in the area and the District Attorney’s office handles a large case volume for the Cherokee Judicial Circuit, which serves Bartow and Gordon Counties.
While the budget is just over $700,000, District Attorney Joseph Campbell described the department as being “uniquely funded.” The 2012 budget is increased from the previous year by $30,000.
“District attorneys are uniquely funded from several sources,” Campbell said. “The state of Georgia funds personnel and travel/training. Myself, six [assistant District Attorneys], one investigator and two clerical [employees] are directly paid through our paying agent — Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia. Bartow County provides office space and funds for operating expenses occurring here. It also provides funds for personnel [in the local office, which includes] two [assistant district attorneys], two investigators and six clerical staff for a total of 10. Likewise, Gordon funds operating expenses and provides office space, in addition to providing the following personnel: one [assistant district attorney], one investigator and three clerical; thus, there are 25 persons employed in the District Attorney office, including myself.”
In the budget provided by the county, $460,000 is designated for employees in the department.
According to a list of duties provided by the District Attorney’s office, the office performs several functions for cases that are slated to appear before a Superior Court judge. Among those are: prosecuting all criminal non-death penalty cases in Superior Court through first appeal for both indigent and non-indigent defendants; prosecuting all death penalty cases through first appeal; attending and advising Grand Juries, which includes organizing schedules, issuing subpoenas and drafting general presentments; drafting indictments, accusations and all mandatory discovery material; filing and prosecuting civil drug asset forfeiture cases; advising law enforcement officials concerning search warrants, arrest warrants and other legal issues; conducting training for law enforcement in areas including search and seizure, report writing and court testimony; screening out potential criminal cases prior to arrest/warrant; screening and notifying defendants for eligibility in pre-trial diversion programs; procuring attendance of out-of-state witnesses and assist other states with procuring witnesses from that state; all extradition matters both as the requesting prosecutor and assisting other state prosecutor’s requests, including drafting fugitive warrants and actual petitions forwarded to [the] governor’s office; verifying bond issue petitions; assisting the Georgia Department of Corrections with probation revocation matters including assisting in subpoenaing witnesses and presenting evidence on its behalf at the non-jury hearing; preparing all final dispositions (sentences) for a judge’s signature during court; representing the state in all Federal Habeas Corpus petitions since the Attorney General’s office cannot do it; representing the state in state Habeas Corpus action where venue and jurisdiction in Superior Courts of circuit and Attorney General’s office does not represent.
The department also is a mandatory member of several legislatively created committees, including the County Child Abuse Protocol Committee, being a Chairperson of the Child Fatality Review Committee, the County School Attendance Protocol Committee and the Circuit Wide Sexual Abuse Protocol Committee.
While the majority of the department’s budget is designated for office supplies — at $12,000 — another line of $1,000 is set for professional fees.
“Professional fees are for expert witnesses not provided by the state, as well as expenses to return to court expert witnesses no longer employed by [the] state crime lab,” Campbell said. “However, the bulk of these expenses are paid out of the drug forfeiture funds. Examples are [a] medical examiner took a job in [North Carolina] and still had several homicide cases pending, which he willingly returned to testify, but his expense exceeded budget allocation. So, I paid [that] from the alternate source. [Another includes when] a firearms expert went to Austin, Texas, and the same scenario occurred.”
Every year, attorneys and prosecutors must participate in education and training sessions. For such occasions, $1,500 is added to the department’s budget.
“Each attorney/prosecutor has to complete 12 hours annually of continuing education with three [hours] specifically devoted to trial work because our office is in court so much,” Campbell said. “[The Prosecuting Attorney’s Council] provides two opportunities each year to obtain these hours at a reduced tuition rate, as well as provide for reimbursement for the travel expenses of the prosecutors. The sessions are in January and July at Jekyll Island. The winter session is rotated around various areas of the state. Last year, it was at Brasstown and prior to that it has been at Callaway Gardens, Macon, Gainesville, Dalton at [the] Trade Center and other locales.”
Other items included in the budget are: repair and maintenance of office equipment at $2,500; telephone expenses at $2,000; printing at $3,000; books and periodicals for updated legislation and the Georgia Code at $4,500; and gasoline and diesel at $4,500.