County Committee Rejects Pre-Trial Specialist For Courts
February 24, 2022
By Mike Kruzman / email@example.com
A request for a new position with the courts that would assess the risk factors of pre-trial defendants not showing up for future court dates has been rejected by a committee of County Commissioners.
Community Corrections Manager Megan Kerekes was before the County Courts, Public Safety, and Infrastructure and Development Committee, Tuesday. She was requesting the hiring of a part-time pre-trial specialist for Livingston County Courts. The position would be grant funded. Kerekes said that, starting small, the pre-trial specialist would interview defendants with specific charges in jail that are awaiting arraignment. She wrote in a memo, that the specialist will then provide an individualized risk level and bond recommendation to the court.
Two members of the County committee, Jay Drick and Carol Sue Reader, have extensive years of experience on both sides of the bench, and both expressed skepticism on the position.
With a defense attorney, prosecutor, and a judge already having access to the information on a defendant needed for setting bond, the specialist position was made to sound redundant. Reader told Kerekes they tried something like this a few years ago and it didn’t work. Reader said, “Would you be surprised to understand that there had been a specialist hired and was gathering the data much the same way you were, and the same forms were used and it failed. And it failed ‘cause the non-verification of the information. Now we have overlap of information from a defense attorney and a prosecutor. So I’m struggling to find out what it is that’s going to be in addition that isn’t gathered from the other people that are at the table.”
Kerekes said that this specialist is meant to be neutral and not replace a bond recommendation, but provide an additional one, as prosecuting and defense attorneys might be vying for the side they are on. Judges, though, are meant to be neutral.
Drick also said he was deeply disturbed by the form he was provided that would be used, saying that he thinks it plain wrong and probably unconstitutional to ask about, and collect data, on the defendant’s gender and race.
The resolution authorizing the filling of the position failed with committee members, 4-0.