The Moore American

Local News

January 30, 2013

District attorney funds waning

(Continued)

MOORE —

Atwood said another proposal would replace the language in current law to state that the $40 fee would be considered a “prosecution fee” rather than a supervision fee so the DA’s could get it, regardless of what services they provide.

“Your district attorneys are in a crisis situation that is the worst these DA’s have ever seen,” said Atwood, who lobbies the legislature for DAs.

The district attorneys are seeking an overall $7 million boost in appropriations to the 27 district attorneys’ offices in the state.

A big reduction in “bounced check” cases, which generated high fees, has caused the DAs to rely even more on the $40-a-month supervision fee.

“That $40 supervision fee is what has saved the DAs,” Atwood said.

House Judiciary Committee Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa, asked Mashburn why the district attorneys are not appealing the criminal appeals court’s decision to the state Supreme Court.

Judge Stice and others have stated that rulings by the Court of Criminal Appeals cannot be appealed to a higher court.

The law states that decisions in criminal cases cannot be appealed to a higher court. But it is not clear whether this question could be heard, since it does not constitute an appeal in a specific criminal case.

Stice commented recently that the DAs’ reliance on misdemeanor cases to generate fees for other prosecutions has been “the elephant in the room.” But he said the criminal appeals court has already addressed that question, and their ruling stands.

McCullough told the district attorneys that at this point, the lawmakers are only listening. Actual legislation will be considered during the upcoming session beginning the first week in February.

Rex Duncan, district attorney from Pawhuska, said currently his office is short two lawyers, two secretaries and an investigator.

“I cannot do anything to generate revenue,” he said.

Duncan, a Republican, served several years in the state House of Representatives.

“I wish I had known then what I know now,” he said.

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