Meaningless pieces of paper
April 29, 2001
At least twice in recent days, criminal indictments issued by a Lauderdale County grand jury have been reduced to meaningless pieces of paper. They have been dismissed because of technical errors apparently emanating from the District Attorney's office. In one case, the technical error more than likely would have resulted in charges being thrown out of court. It was discovered, late in the process, that the charge on which the man was indicted could not possibly be proven. He is awaiting re-indictment by the next grand jury.
And, in still another case, a reported plea bargaining agreement involving a defendant charged in connection with a high profile murder case apparently wasn't an agreement at all.
The defendant, in a personal visit to The Meridian Star newsroom, made it clear he had no intention of signing a plea bargain this after the district attorney's office reported he would sign. Some miscommunication, or another sloppy job on the part of the DA?
Good law enforcement requires painstaking work by a variety of parties, work that stands up to intense scrutiny. Writing an appropriate indictment is an essential part of the process. Having the details of a plea bargain pinned down is another part of the process.
Unfortunately, a flood of criminal cases seems to be overwhelming the district attorney's office, resulting in costly and time-consuming mistakes.