I love my community and its people. I was born and raised in Macon as were my parents and grandparents. I grew up with a deep sense of commitment to and responsibility for this county. Being a career prosecutor, I believe in firmness as well as compassion. Because of the high volume of misdemeanor cases, I have abundant opportunities for grace and can touch so many lives. I love being Solicitor-General. It gives me the opportunity to have an impact at the State, local and individual level.
Being Solicitor-General is more to me than just being responsible for thousands of cases. I have always approached prosecution as a way to administer justice, rather than simply winning cases. I serve as an elected member of the Prosecuting Attorneys Council for the State of Georgia. As an active member of the Georgia Association of Solicitors-General, I am continuing my long-time practice of being an advocate in the legislative process. I am Past-President and in 2018, I was named GASG Solicitor-General of the Year. As Solicitor-General for Bibb County, I am committed to delivering fair and efficient justice for all citizens in Macon-Bibb County. My greatest satisfaction however comes from helping individuals.
In managing my office, I make sure all of my Assistant Solicitors-General and Victim Witness Advocates have the resources, training and support to do their very best in their jobs of prosecuting crimes and serving the victims of crime in this community.
2020 brings the realization of a long-term goal. As of January 2020, the State Court of Bibb County is operating our Swift Certain and Fair Domestic Violence Court. This program is pairing federal funds with local and national expertise to better address recidivism and the underlying causes of domestic violence. The program focuses on identifying the individual defendant's clinical needs while removing the financial barriers to defendants getting help. This is a pilot program for the nation and everyone in State Court is very excited to see the program's impact.
My passion and expertise is Domestic Violence Intervention. Through my experience, I discovered that our community needed more resources for victims so I became integrally involved in the founding of Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia. I continue to support it today. I believe we need to do everything we can to help Domestic Violence Victims gain confidence in their quest to be safe and self-sufficient.
I love what I do. This is my calling and I hope to have the opportunity to serve as your Solicitor-General for another four years.
In the last four years, we have seen many changes in the prosecutorial landscape. The Criminal Justice Reform Act increased the misdemeanor case load. Consolidation brought prosecutorial responsibilities for the Municipal Court to the Office of the Solicitor-General. As a result, I have made improvements in staff. To accommodate the increase case load, I have added three prosecutors and an administrative assistant. We now have two prosecutors devoted to DUI prosecution, two prosecutors devoted to crimes against persons and domestic violence and two prosecutors to handle Municipal Court and property crimes. We still only have one investigator. I hope in the next term to add a second investigator to our team. I continue to be committed to finding the “right-sized” force to deliver quality to the community.
When I was sworn in almost four years ago, one of my first priorities was implementing a new electronic case management system known at TRACKER. This allows more efficiency, uniformity and faster processing of and monitoring of cases. One of the best things about this new software, is that it was done at no cost to Macon-Bibb County. This is a service provided by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia.
I've been intensely involved in bringing about needed technological advances. My focus on these vital changes streamlined case management in the Solicitor’s Office. Additionally, I worked closely with other court and clerk leaders to evaluate and choose new case management software for Macon-Bibb County. This allows all participating courts to interface and increase efficiency. I also serve as project sponsor in the ongoing implementation of eCourt by Journal Technologies.
I have the privilege of working with a Victim Witness Coordinator who is “all in” when it comes to working with victims of domestic violence and abuse. Prior to joining our team, she worked for over two decades as a volunteer dealing with victims of domestic violence. We recently obtained a grant-funded position and have added a victim witness advocate. Our Victim-Witness team works to reach out the victims from the time of the Defendant’s arrest and make every effort to increase victim understanding of and participation in the court process. We work closely with other community resources to provide the services they need.
The law is ever changing and evolving so continuing education is critical. I believe I have a responsibility not only to the prosecutors who work for me but also to law enforcement. Our prosecutors regularly participate in training on prosecutorial trial techniques but also technical training in their specific areas of expertise. I also personally participate in continuing education for prosecutors in courtroom techniques but also train law enforcement officers in evidence collection and preservation, report writing and courtroom testimony.
With all the logisitical and operational challenges facing the Solicitor-General, I still recognize and embrace that my top priority is to be a good steward of the public trust, which means that I have to do everything in my power to make sure the office fulfills its primary mission which is to prosecute cases. The best way to do that is by right-sizing the staff so that my Assistant Solicitors-General can effectively handle their caseloads. The changes I have made allow our office to process files more timely and to do a more thorough review and collection of evidence. We also have increased our outreach allowing for better victim participation in the process.
MENTAL HEALTH ISSUSES and VETERAN'S NEEDS
With most of the state-run mental health facilities closed or severly reduced in staff and the Veteran’s Association facilities grossly understaffed, many of the most vulnerable in our society are falling through the cracks and not receiving the services and treatment that they desperately need. One of the ramifications of these shortfalls, is that these forgotten people wind up with misdemeanor criminal charges. Even worse is that for too many in our society, criminal sanctions are the best way for them to obtain treatment and services. While we as prosecutors can’t solve this problem, we are doing our part to evaluate and identify those that need services instead of sanctions.