Prosecutor candidates disagree over trial win tally

Prosecutor candidates disagree over trial win tally

Two candidates for county prosecutor do not see eye to eye on the present officeholder’s jury trial wins.

Prosecutor Joe Villanueva is managing for his initial full time period in office environment. He was selected via caucus in September 2019 just after former prosecutor Brad Cooper was eliminated from office because of to his felony conviction. Villanueva, who was chief deputy prosecutor at the time, won the caucus versus 5 other candidates.

Lance Hamner, former county prosecutor and Remarkable Court docket 3 decide, is complicated Villanueva. Hamner beforehand served as Johnson County prosecutor from 1991 to 2008. He resigned as Johnson County Exceptional Court 3 decide in February to operate for prosecutor.

Villanueva has expended his entire 22-12 months lawful vocation at the prosecutor’s office environment. He has taken techniques above the previous two many years to function a lot more carefully with legislation enforcement, which include getting prosecutors at each individual important criminal offense scene, possessing typical conferences with police administration, supplying a lot of training seminars and lawful updates and undertaking “ride alongs” with officers, he stated.

Both of those Villanueva and Hamner, however, have presented different numbers for the quantity of circumstances gained at the office environment less than Villanueva.

Given that Villanueva formally turned prosecutor in September 2019, his office environment has won outright convictions in 7 felony jury trials — outright indicating the defendant was convicted on all initial charges. He has also gained convictions in two other felony jury trials, however, in individuals trials the jury convicted the defendant on at the very least 1, but not all fees. In addition, he has received two convictions in instances wherever the defendant was convicted on lesser expenses, Johnson County courtroom facts reveals.

Villanueva’s place of work also received a felony situation in Hamilton County, where by the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Business office acted as distinctive prosecutors, he claimed.

Throughout the similar period of time, Villanueva’s business also dropped three cases and had a single mistrial. The mistrial case was finally fixed as a result of a plea settlement, wherever the defendant plead to the lesser of two prices, information shows.

Villanueva reported the prosecutor’s office environment has received 17/21 jury trials as of April 5, although not all are outright wins. Of these, 3 were for misdemeanors and two ended up received in advance of the September 2019 caucus.

A person misdemeanor demo was for felony theft, but the jury attained a verdict for misdemeanor theft. The demand was ultimately upgraded to a felony because of to prior convictions, information displays.

Additionally, there was the felony demo Johnson County received for Hamilton County, courtroom information exhibits.

Two other trials Villanueva considers as jury victories finished with a plea agreements. In the first circumstance, a felony drug cost, the defendant stopped proceedings mid-trial and plead responsible. In the other, a misdemeanor gun scenario, the jury was about to be chosen and the defendant plead guilty before the demo commenced, he claimed.

“Our men and women were there with witnesses all set to go, and the trial was either completely ready to start off or actually commenced. I watch these as entirely various than a person pleading guilty at a normal courtroom listening to,” Villanueva claimed in an electronic mail.

Villanueva’s numbers rely two wins prior to he was chosen by means of caucus to fill the prosecutor’s seat, but immediately after he experienced grew to become performing prosecutor, knowledge demonstrates. Villanueva served as acting prosecutor from April 2019 to July of that calendar year and was the interim prosecutor from July to September. He was picked by using the caucus to fill Cooper’s term in September 2019.

The 3 trials Villanueva dropped were all sex criminal offense circumstances. Historically, these kinds of scenarios have a lot reduce conviction fees than other folks for the reason that they typically deficiency physical evidence and depend much more on the victim’s testimony, he explained past thirty day period.

“But we nonetheless bring those to trial because we imagine in what the sufferer explained occurred and we choose our finest shot,” Villanueva reported.

Hamner does not have the similar check out. Hamner claimed previously this year he was let down at how the prosecutor’s workplace has fared in recent several years, and failings its mission to quite and successfully prosecute criminals.

The prosecutor’s workplace has lost an “unacceptably high” variety of circumstances at demo, Hamner reported.

Hamner disagrees with Villanueva’s assertion all through an job interview on March 1 that he had won 16 of 19 jury trials. He did not know where by Villanueva was having his quantities, he reported.

Hamner only counts jury victories as wins when a defendant is located “guilty as billed,” or located responsible on all counts. From September 2019 to March of this year, there were being only 7 felony jury trial verdicts that fulfill this definition, Hamner stated by means of electronic mail.

There ended up a different two trials which resulted in a responsible verdict on only a solitary rely, a partial gain in Hamner’s eyes, he stated.

“Even with these partial wins, which is nonetheless only 64{a73b23072a465f6dd23983c09830ffe2a8245d9af5d9bd9adefc850bb6dffe13} in the acquire column,” Hamner reported via email, referring to felony trials immediately after Sept. 2019 that resulted in at the very least a partial earn.

Villanueva has gained about 47{a73b23072a465f6dd23983c09830ffe2a8245d9af5d9bd9adefc850bb6dffe13} of jury trials with an outright conviction, which include felonies and misdemeanors since April 2019. This proportion excludes the Hamilton County scenario, as it was not a gain for Johnson County inhabitants, and excludes two cases from when Villanueva was performing prosecutor.

Devoid of the circumstances received just before the caucus, Villanueva’s trial wins would be 57{a73b23072a465f6dd23983c09830ffe2a8245d9af5d9bd9adefc850bb6dffe13}, such as each felonies and misdemeanors.

While three of trials were being settled by means of plea agreements for lesser prices, Villanueva did get a conviction, details shows.

Ferne Dekker

Learn More →