Nacogdoches County DA requests more prosecutors
NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - A shortage of prosecutors, according to the Nacogdoches County district attorney, is preventing the office from making headway on a growing case load.
This morning DA Andrew Jones presented his case before Nacogdoches County Commissioners to hire more prosecutors.
“The pandemic has created this monster,” Jones told the court.
The situation is overwhelming Jones and his staff of three prosecutors. Soon two, as one is quitting.
“Their case numbers are growing. And I think it’s getting frustrating,” said Jones.
The American Bar Association recommends an average of 143 cases per prosecutor, according to Jones.
Jones explains Nacogdoches County is a single county, felony only offense office, one of 31 in the state.
Where does Nacogdoches rank?
“There’s another county out there. They are rocking 356 per prosecutor. But short of them we got the highest case load for offices like us in the state,” said Jones.
In Jones’ defense, County Attorney John Fleming shared a scenario close to home.
“Over at Lufkin, our sister city, they have 15 prosecutors between the district attorney’s office and the county attorney’s office. We have eight,” said Fleming.
The attorneys’ closing argument was for two additional prosecutors. The evidence: a caseload over a thousand and 550 on the docket in the 145th District Court in the next couple of months.. And 350 cases which have not gone before the Grand Jury at all.
Where are the defendants?
“They’re either in jail or out on bond,” agreed Jones after County Judge Greg Sowell made the point.
Which leads to jail overcrowding.
“We’re over and have been,” said Sowell. “There are no open jails taking outside prisoners within 250 miles.”
Sowell and Sheriff Jason Bridges will testify before the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. They want an occupancy waiver to house 48 more inmates than currently allowed.
The court will investigate if the county’s $6-million dollars in coronavirus recovery funds (American Rescue Plan Act, ARPA) can pay for salaries and benefits.
Jones acknowledges, ‘it’s a big ask’, reiterating the monster justice is facing.
Another workshop on hiring more prosecutors will happen next month.
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