Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller always insisted she needed more staff. Now, like a trial-primed prosecutor, she has the evidence to back it up.
The Utah State Courts reports a 13 percent jump in criminal filings since July 2007, springing to a six-year high with 13,225 new cases.
It's bittersweet vindication for Miller, whose push for more prosecutors and claim of a crime spurt were criticized last year because court data at the time showed a dip in cases.
...I thought back to last year:
The crime wave that Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller professed in pushing for more prosecutors appears to be more fiction than fact.
A closer look at the Republican D.A.'s data reveals no rise in criminal cases.
To the contrary, felonies have fallen during the past three years, criminal cases are at a five-year low, and total filings have declined steadily since 2003, according to the state courts.
The July-to-July numbers contradict Miller 's claims of escalating crime, which she used to coax an extra $1.3 million, including four new prosecutors, from the County Council last week.
They also show that Miller reported an inflated number of felonies to the council for 2007 - 9,880 cases, compared with the actual 8,369 cases. (Tribune, November 20, 2007)
However, I waived off the coincidence, or else I would have posted on this a few days ago.
But then I read this from Out of Context:
The surge in criminal filings in Salt Lake County might seem suspicious -- especially when considering that District Attorney Lohra Miller repeatedly has pushed for more prosecutors and a bigger budget.
Daniel Medwed, a criminal-law professor at the University of Utah, questioned whether the Republican D.A. had skewed the stats by lowering screening standards and pursuing more cases.
But the second-year D.A. diffused those political explanations with in-house data showing that the office has prosecuted the same percentage of cases the past three years.
Miller's office also supplied this internal e-mail from a top staffer in the criminal division that appears to bolster the D.A.'s defense.
"I have had some cases come to my attention that cause me to wonder whether we are becoming a little too conservative on our approach to prosecutions," the staffer wrote to the prosecutors. "Please do not take this as an accusation. I do not mean to reprimand or to offend but I wanted to discuss with you some points that I hope will help you with your evaluation of your cases."
Even without an aggressive strategy, criminal filings have jumped 13 percent since July 2007.