In an economy where people are lucky simply to have a job, some are wondering how 18th Judicial District Attorney Carol Chambers has been able to give out bonuses of up to $3,000 to attorneys that meet certain criteria. Chambers, reports 9News, “is giving bonuses to her deputy attorneys who tried more than five cases last year and have a conviction rate higher than 70 percent.”
While Chambers states that her office can afford to pay out the bonus money, others are concerned less about the finances and more about justice. Scott Storey, First Judicial District Attorney, comments that “when you get competitive like that and when the mission becomes trials and how many trials you can get rather than to the pursuit of justice, then I just think that sends the wrong message to your prosecutors and to the community… Our job is not to directly tie the conviction rate, trials or plea bargains to a monetary figure.”
The concern of prosecutors like Storey centers on Chambers providing an incentive that could be construed as a financial interest at trial, an interest that could open the floodgates to defense attorneys appealing lost cases and that puts a price on justice. Attorney Mitch Morrissey comments, “what matters is that you go in there and you seek justice. And you do the best job you can and then you leave it up to 12 citizens to make a decision.”
The bonuses, insists Chambers, were given “to support staff and attorneys for morale and to recognize hard work, quality of work, positive influence and contribution to the prosecution team.”
To read the full story and accompanying video, please visit 9Wants to Know online.
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