When counties hire new prosecutors, is it still business as usual, right? Not necessarily. While many prosecutors consider themselves to be non-partisan, it’s difficult to be in that position and not be swayed by the current political climate that put them into that office. Prosecutors, like judges, often have varying priorities that affect the cases they bring before the court.
A Good Case in Point: The Kim Foxx Effect
In 2016, Kim Foxx unseated the incumbent in Cook County, Illinois, and vowed to transform the country’s second-largest prosecutor’s office in several ways, including more accountability for shootings by police and reducing unnecessary prosecutions for low-level, non-violent crimes. After just one year in office, she released six years of data that tracked every felony brought to her office, offering an unprecedented view into prosecutorial decision-making and its impact.
The Fox Effect Revealed
While more than 35,000 cases flowed through Foxx’s office, she turned away more than 5,000 of them that would have been pursued by her predecessor, the previous State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. The cases she declined to prosecute were mostly low-level shoplifting and drug offenses, which she diverted to alternate treatment programs.
The Impact of Andrew Warren in Hillsborough County
A similar redirection of priorities took place after the State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit was sworn into office on January 3, 2017. Andrew H. Warren vowed to make his office a model of what a prosecutor’s office should be, not just in Florida but comparatively throughout the U.S. His promise was to view each case not as a person to be prosecuted but rather as a problem to be solved. In the last three years, he has introduced programs to make that vision a reality.
In July of 2019, an independent review by Florida International University and Loyola University found that race was not a factor in Hillsborough County DA Criminal Cases. They combed through 87,000 cases and found that whites were most likely and blacks least likely to have cases filed by prosecutors. For every 1,000 cases brought to the State Attorney’s Office with whites, 912 were filed. For Hispanics and blacks, the number was 910 and 905, respectively. Warren’s Office was one of only four in the country who allowed such unprecedented access to two years of case files for the study.
‘We have so many people coming through the system who we don’t need to be necessarily tough on,’ Warren said. ‘We want to make sure that we’re attacking the underlying problem.’
Experienced Criminal Law Attorneys Understand These Nuances
Working with an attorney who knows the local ‘lay of the land’ when it comes to prosecutorial preferences and direction are invaluable to defendants in any criminal case. Such knowledge can help lead to a plea bargain, reduced sentence, or even an alternative to a guilty verdict and/or incarceration.
If you feel you or a loved one have been unfairly charged with a crime, it’s imperative that you seek the advice of a proven, trial-tested criminal defense attorney like those at Fernandez & Hernandez, Attorneys At Law. You can reach us for advice 24/7 by calling (813) 229-5353. Hablan español.