February 4, 2016
Today at noon I filed paperwork with the Charlevoix County Clerk’s office to seek re-election as Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney.
I am very proud of the progress we have made in the 37 months since I took office. We have an office where people are respected and treated as important members of a team.
More importantly, we have effectively prosecuted cases in the county in a very difficult period which has included an alleged murder, manslaughter, an attempted murder, the shooting of a police officer, several sex crimes, including those against children, a “shaken baby case,” embezzlements, strings of break-in thefts, arson, rape and armed robbery.
These have all been cases I have personally handled over the past three years. Each of our four prosecutors, including myself, has specific areas of responsibility. I have reorganized the office so that prosecutors are put in positions of familiarity where they can succeed.
While convictions are important, it is also important that we keep an open mind and seek justice. An example of this were the E-Z Mart armed robbery cases in Charlevoix. I initially charged an individual with one of the robberies based upon the word of another person involved. We had a preliminary examination where the court found probable cause to believe that the person charged had committed the crime, but the investigator and I thought that something was wrong with the case. The investigation continued and eventually the actual robber confessed and we were able to dismiss the charges that had been based on false testimony.
A primary initiative during my first term was the area of domestic violence. The law enforcement community, with my leadership, adopted county-wide policies on the investigation and prosecution of domestic violence cases. Together with our victim advocate, Libby Mikulski, I started the Charlevoix County Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Task Force which meets regularly to discuss solutions for these problems in our area.
With the support of law enforcement and the county commissioners, I hired an assistant prosecutor focused on domestic violence cases.
Another initiative was regarding underage sexual activity. I instituted a Teen Sex Deferral Program for teenagers who are low risk for re-offending where education and counseling are emphasized rather than a criminal record. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Katrina Martin and I visited county high schools to talk to kids about laws concerning teen sexual activity.
I personally have handled the cases involving our Joint Operational Law Enforcement Team (“JOLT”) as well as the majority of all felony cases in the county. I personally obtained convictions at trial on cases involving attempted murder, criminal sexual conduct related to a child, arson and witness intimidation, illegal growing of marijuana and two trials involving assaults upon police officers.
We have also taken great strides to increase communication between the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, police officers, victims, others involved in the system – and the public at large. Whether it is office newsletters, creation of office Facebook and Twitter accounts, monthly meetings with police chiefs or just an open door policy with the public, we have greatly increased the communication out of this office.
Simply put, we have accomplished a lot and it is important that Charlevoix County and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office keep moving forward. It is for these reasons that I am seeking re-election.