County prosecutor's office could lose case file data if funds don't come through

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) – The Poinsett County Finance Committee voted unanimously in favor of a proposal by the county prosecutor to increase the office's funding. According to Poinsett County Prosecutor Marty Lilly, an obsolete computer server is threatening to put case files in jeopardy. Lilly asked the committee for an additional $9,838.29 for the 2010 fiscal year to offset operational costs and one-time $3,000 transfer from the county general fund for a new computer server.

"The prosecutor's office has been in long need of new equipment. I think it's been ignored in the past, not through any fault of anybody. I just think it's one of those things that happens," said Lilly.

The Poinsett County Prosecutor's Office employs two full-time employees and one part-time prosecutor. Lilly said a new computer server would help the office be more efficient at a time when it handles large numbers of case files.

"Without getting into too much detail for security reasons, it is a case management system. The prosecutor's office is responsible for printing the docket each time we have felony court," said Lilly. "Every time we have a felony court date here, the prosecutor's office prints the docket, provides a copy to the judge, public defenders, defense attorneys, court personnel and etc. That server holds the data for all of the criminal cases, keeps up with the calendaring and the docket."

The measure now goes before the Poinsett Quorum Court in May, where justices will further discuss the proposal.

"The prosecuting attorney's office requested some additional funds for operating expenses," said Charles Nix, Poinsett County Judge. "We want to make sure that the taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck."

"Anytime you increase revenues, it's just going to come out of your general fund and those are monies that will not go into reserves or will not be carried over into the next year," said Nix. "If your law enforcement people are out doing their job and once they nab these folks, then if you don't have a prosecutor to take care of the other part of it, then you're defeating the purpose."

Lilly told committee members Tuesday the state provides software and technical support, but only one employee can be on the server at any one time.

"When we get a new case in, it produces the felony information and documents that are required in filing a case," said Lilly. "The time that is taken when you have to go back and recover that data from backup and start again is really the problem."

Lilly said other pieces of equipment have needed repairs and sometimes he's paid out of pocket. He said one copy machine wasn't serviced until it provided 35,000 documents.

"I think that obviously with the economy and collections down, they (quorum court) have to be very careful with the county's money. I understand that, but by the same token, I have a responsibility as well," said Lilly. "The more time that we have to deal with these cases and prosecute these felony crimes, the safer the public is. The more time that I as a prosecutor have to spend on the phone trying to get my computer system back up, that's less time I have to review affidavits, to review police files and to get cases ready for trial."

The prosecutor's office also uses an on-site shredding company. Lewd photographs and personal documents are included in the information that is destroyed by Secure On-Site Shredding.

"We get a new server and we get these other items, then we can get to the business of prosecuting these criminals and putting them in prison instead of worrying about office equipment," said Lilly.

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