JONESBORO — To ensure felony detainees receive legal representation, local law enforcement has adjusted its clerical procedures so defense attorneys have the information they need for trial.
District Court Judge David Boling has been directing officers to put a copy of each signed probable cause affidavit into a dropbox. This change comes because some of them have “been slipping through the cracks,” the judge said.
Public defenders are assigned to the accused who are deemed indigent, or without the financial means to hire a lawyer. Those who do are obligated to solicit private legal representation.
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Grant DeProw said it may have been caused by changes the Craighead County Sheriff’s Office and Jonesboro Police Department made.
“Before the change, the sheriff’s office collected the paperwork and provided it to the public defenders,” DeProw said. “After the change, the sheriff’s office no longer kept a copy of the warrants issued from the police department, so the police department office lost track of which clients were arrested by JPD and assigned to a public defender.”
DeProw said the changes have not affected the prosecutor’s office.
“We have not missed any cases. Our procedures have not changed and we are still going forward as always,” he said.
The district court judges also verify mailing addresses and phone numbers for the detainees during probable cause hearings so public defenders can contact them before an appearance.
“This new procedure provides a one-stop location for all detectives to provide a copy of the paperwork to the public defender’s office, so they can have the earliest possible notice of the clients to which they are assigned,” DeProw said.