Justice Column

By: News Release
Jun 30th, 2017

This 78th edition of Justice For All is the annual update on the criminal case docket for one month in Clayton County.

As of the time this column is being written, there are 38 indictable criminal cases assigned to the one Clayton County jury trial date in July 2017. An indictable offense is any crime other than a simple misdemeanor such speeding, driving while suspended, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, theft of small amounts, possession of drug paraphernalia, and some assaults with no injuries. Simple misdemeanors are handled in Magistrate Court which has its own separate trial docket. District Court has jurisdiction over all indictable offenses.

14 of the 38 cases on the District Court jury trial docket involve at least one charge which is classified as a felony. Charges in those cases include: theft of over $1,000, burglary, delivery of a controlled substance, conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, attempting to introduce contraband into the jail, sexual abuse, and operating while intoxicated as a third offense.

The remaining misdemeanor charges on the July calendar include: domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury, operating while intoxicated as a first or second offense, eluding, driving while barred, driving while revoked, operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent, theft of less than $1,000, animal neglect, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, and possession of a controlled substance – marijuana. The most commonly occurring crime, as it has been for all of the last seven years, is operating while intoxicated as a first offense.

The total number of cases set for trial this July is down approximately 7% from the previous low in July 2012 and down approximately 27% from the previous high in July 2015. There are many possible explanations for this decline. Clayton County was granted a second August trial date by court administration this year to help with scheduling so some of the cases that otherwise might have been on the July calendar that is analyzed for this column every year may have been scheduled for the second August date instead. The trial list also fluctuates on a weekly and sometimes daily basis as cases are either resolved or continued to another trial date. The incarceration of some chronic repeat offenders may have also had an effect on lowering the number of criminal cases. Finally, I believe the diligent work of our law enforcement agencies has had a deterrent effect that reduces our crime rate. The professionalism shown by our law enforcement officers in investigating and charging cases along with their daily interactions with the public in non-criminal settings surely contributes to making Clayton County a place where, as the saying goes, “crime doesn’t pay”. My offices joins their efforts as we work together to bring justice for all.