The following are the reasons I am running for this position. This information is also posted on my website under the media tab. Please contact me (see contact tab on my website) if you have any questions or concerns.
I am running for several reasons.
One, I have a strong sense of attachment to this community, and I only want the best for this county.
Secondly, I have seen a large number of repeat offenders in my four-plus years prosecuting here. I believe that individuals keep coming back with criminal charges because we are not addressing the underlying issues that bring them to be involved with the criminal justice system. Largely, an unaddressed alcohol or other drug addiction keeps bringing back individuals into the court system. DUI Court arraignment is held almost weekly in state court, and on average about 50 percent of the new DUIs each week are committed by individuals that have had at least one previous DUI in their lifetime.
Clearly, we are not doing enough to address one’s underlying addiction issues.
There are avenues in the sentencing guidelines that allow for a judge to try and address someone’s addiction issues. One of them is to assess the level of a person’s substance abuse issue before they are sentenced so that the sentence the Judge hands out can more appropriately address their addiction. Other jurisdictions do this, and I think that Cherokee County should do this as well.
Thirdly, statistics show that the other large issue that people face who come into contact with the criminal justice system is some type of mental health disease, illness or diagnosis. Sometimes it is mild, and sometimes it is severe. It can be anything from depression to paranoid schizophrenia.
Currently, Highland Rivers is the county mental health board for Cherokee County. This is a quasi-government run mental health assistance organization. Cherokee County is the largest population of the counties that Highland Rivers oversees. Despite this, Cherokee County receives the least amount of resources to address these issues. I am seeking to become actively involved in the much needed creation of a county mental health court. I have handled numerous cases in both my capacity as a defense attorney and a prosecutor that have involved some level of mental health. It is necessary to address these issues adequately in order to ensure that people get the necessary help to avoid coming into contact with law enforcement again.
The county is spending countless dollars to arrest, prosecute, defend, incarcerate and supervise the same individuals over and over again because some underlying issue keeps them involved in the criminal justice system. Instead of spending money over and over again and not really solving the larger picture, I believe it is necessary to try and resolve the issues initially. All of us in this community will be better off by doing so.
In conclusion, because I have been both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, I believe I can be fair and just to both sides in a case. State court primarily handles criminal cases, and I have always handled criminal cases. I have seen criminal work from both sides. It is necessary for a judge to be able to be both fair and just, harsh when needed and compassionate when needed. I believe my experience with both sides of the law has given me the strength, knowledge, education and the courage to do just that. Please join me in this campaign. I appreciate your support.