Andrew, on the Issues
Below are Andrew's take on the issues affecting Morrow County:
Relationship with the First Responder Community
Growing up as the son of an attorney, I have been fortunate to be familiar with members of law enforcement since a young age. As an attorney, while I have opposed them in the courtroom I hold the members of our first responder community in high regard and believe that I have developed a mutual respect between us. It is important in a small community for the relationship between the county prosecutor and first responder personnel not to be limited to a 9-5 time frame. Outside of work hours, I would make myself available to any first responder to call with questions.
As the county prosecutor, I would keep those involved in the initial arrest or criminal complaint informed as to the status of upcoming hearings and settlement negotiations. I would achieve this through monthly meetings with the heads of the law enforcement agencies and a weekly report sent with the latest updates on cases. While my staff and I would make the ultimate decisions, the input and opinions of law enforcement would be strongly considered in the resolution of cases.
I would protect members of our first responder community by maintaining an office policy of strict treatment for any person accused of the victimization of a first responder.
Preparation, Professionalism, and Communication
Preparation is a fundamental tenant in my private practice, and it is a habit I would expect of those working in my office. Cases would be assigned to specific assistants and it would be expected if another assistant covers a case that they would be prepared for the hearing being covered and empowered to resolve the case if possible. It would be my intention to provide initial offers in criminal cases along with the initial disclosure of discovery so that pre-trial hearings can be productive and cases progressing to resolution.
Professionalism to the Court, opposing counsel, law enforcement, victims and the accused in criminal cases, and to county and township officials in civil matters would be expected and displayed at all times by my office. I understand the public scrutiny that comes with this position and will make those representing my office a positive reflection on Morrow County and the prosecutor's office.
Victim services would have improved communication with both the prosecutors handling cases and the victims involved in those cases. Too often, I have been asked, "Are you the prosecutor on my case?" and when I informed these victims I was the defense counsel they still asked if I could tell them what was happening with the case because no one else had.
Addressing the Drug and Drug-Related Crime Epidemic
Having been a criminal defense attorney for over eight years and handling hundreds of cases, I have had the opportunity to experience the growing drug epidemic first hand. I have gotten to experience clients who wanted to make a change and clients who did not. I have learned some of the things that motivate a change in those who are addicted to drugs. From this experience as well as my internship with the Marion Prosecutor's Office and serving as a guardian ad litem to children of those addicted to drugs, I have devised a strategy that is low risk, high reward. This plan incentivizes those who are addicted to seek the treatment they need and punishes those who continue to push poison into our county.
Certain crimes require punitive prison incarceration. I believe in cases where there were no physical injuries that giving defendant’s with drug problems the opportunity to earn their release through judicial release through completion of GED classwork, vocational training, mental health counseling and alcohol and drug programming provides the best chance of returning these persons from prison with a lowered chance of re-offense. Our Court has assembled a hardworking and efficient drug court probation staff who would support these newly released offenders and hold them accountable to maintaining their recovery. Those who are not serious or refuse to continue compliance will be returned to prison while those who thrive with this structure return to us with the cycle broken.
Having spoken to members of law enforcement a frustration that is repeated to me is the revolving door for those repeat offenders who deal drugs. While addiction sometimes plays a part in someone trafficking in narcotics, those who sell drugs or who permit drugs to be sold in Morrow County will be prosecuted, forfeiture of property used in the sale or purchased as a result of the sale of drugs will be sought, and jail time will be pursued. Under the current law, first time non-violent felony offenders with low level felonies can only be imprisoned if they meet certain criteria but local jail time can and will be requested. Our Common Pleas Court has created a jail program for drug and alcohol recovery and completion of that program would be requested as a term of probation. Prison will be sought for repeat offenders. It will become too costly to sell drugs in this county from both a time and money perspective.
Civil Assistant Staffing
Morrow County is growing and as a result, the needs of Township Officials, Elected Officials, and County Boards are growing as well. To meet this need, I would create a full time civil assistant prosecutor position. While one can never account for another assistant being sick and needing coverage for court, this assistant would be solely responsible for addressing the civil needs of the county. Opinions would be rendered more quickly and consistently and there would always be someone at the office to take a call.