Grand jury sees smaller number of cases this term

Published 9:10 am Monday, May 16, 2016

The first week of May hosted the second grand jury term of the year in Warren County.

The jury reviewed a total of 59 cases against 75 people that included 68 separate counts. Five of the cases heard were reduced to misdemeanors. One case was continued to the next grand jury during the last week of July.

“I’ve been in office for 8 and a half years now and this last grand jury was by far, as far number of cases presented, was by far the smallest,” Smith said, adding time will tell if this grand jury was just abnormal or if there will be a trend of fewer cases in Warren County.

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Zero no bills were certified, meaning all cases presented to the jury either went forward with indictment as a true bill or were lowered to misdemeanor charges.

The jury made 16 recommendations in their report. Smith said the jurors were able to make thoughtful recommendations that didn’t necessarily follow the lead of juries in the past. He said the jurors might have been more vocal because they had fewer cases to hear and more time and energy to discuss their recommendations.

“This group gave a significant amount of recommendations— new ones too,” Smith said.

Some of the new recommendations were for the Board of Supervisors to create a 10-year infrastructure plan, to pursue grant money for the infrastructure plan, to utilize county property in Flowers for a new jail, to work with the chamber of commerce to promote economic development, a joint city and county patrol of Interstate 20 to reduce drug trafficking and for elected officials to avoid the pressures of political correctness and to allow God’s influence to guide them.

The jury also asked for increased funding by the state Legislature for the treatment of mentally ill patients, which recently saw a large cut in funding.

Smith said some recommendations were understandably the same as juries past because they cover issues that have not been dealt with yet— like additional funding to the youth court, more training for law enforcement, updates to the courthouse and a new jail.

“I commend every grand juror for giving a week of their time to perform an important task, and they never complained about the time it took to complete the work,” Smith said.

Jurors met with Sheriff Martin Pace, Youth Court Prosecutor Ricky Johnson, Youth Court Judge Johnny Price, Board of Supervisors president Richard George and County Administrator John Smith during their week of service.

“I appreciate them coming to speak to the jurors,” Smith said.

The jury also toured the jail and the youth court.