A hearty thank you to Tom Coleman, who blasted the SAO’s Felony Case Filing Unit in open court this morning, stating the SAO’s “cavalier case filing methods” will no longer be tolerated.
Attorney Bruce Raticoff had filed for release of an uncharged Defendant, noticing the hearing for May 6th at 11:15 AM. The State’s response was for Case Filing chief Staci Direnzo, who was not the assigned case filer, to sign and quickly file very serious charges via Information at 9:30 AM the morning of the 6th just before the hearing started, to avoid the motion being granted. Coleman wasn’t happy at all.
“I believe Judge Coleman wants to put a stop to case filing not paying attention to the facts and circumstances of each case, waiting until the last minute, when they’ve realized they’ve blown time limits and then just file a serious case to avoid having someone released because they haven’t done their jobs.“
Complaints and criticisms by both defense attorneys and line prosecutors regarding the way life-changing, poorly investigated, over-charged felony cases are brought into the system, often lacking cooperative witnesses to boot, are nothing new. In fact, observers have been gravely disappointed that Harold Pryor hasn’t acknowledged the conventional wisdom that many of the Broward criminal justice system’s problems begin and end with case filing. Compounding the problem, the most serious cases are often handled in the cavalier fashion Coleman described, because case filers are still under orders to file the same high volume of nickel and dime, cheap shot, mass incarceration-inducing felonies that were the hallmark of the Satz regime, distracting case filers and line prosecutors alike from focusing their time, energy, and scarce resources on the most violent offenders. At this point in time, Pryor is believed to be squandering an historic opportunity to reform case filing and make Broward safer, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Coleman, for his part, also stated that in the future, individual case filers, their supervisors, or the head of the Felony Trial Unit would be required to appear in his courtroom to answer in situations like the one before him today, instead of the line prosecutor being left to twist in the wind. Let’s hope that happens, and that other judges join him in holding Case Filing accountable. In that fashion, real change, of the type Pryor promised during the campaign, could finally be brought to Broward County.
COMING SOON – More upheavals in the Family Division …