Plans & Accomplishments
Commonwealth’s Forum on Crime in Sussex prisons
Shortly after being appointed as Commonwealth’s Attorney we got busy instituting major policy initiatives for this office. We called on the Wardens, their staff and other key leadership figure within the Department of Corrections to meet and discuss ways to reduce crime in the prisons. The meeting was highly successful and we expect that it will be used as a model for other jurisdictions that are responsible for prosecuting criminal activity in their jurisdictions. Since instituting this plan, we have managed to increase successful prosecution of major crimes committed in the Sussex prisons. We recently asked the Grand Jury to give us twenty-five indictments for the Sussex prison and they did just that. We believe that these indictments and the subsequent successful prosecutions will significantly deter further attempts to commit crimes in the prison.
Commonwealth’s Community Service Program Plan
Soon after arriving in Sussex we began working with Sheriff Giles to create a more robust community service program to promote opportunities for defendants to avoid felony convictions. We believe that such programs reduce incarceration rates, provides free labor for the County’s charitable programs such as the Jessica Ann Moore Foundation. Our plan reduces cost of litigation, wasted court time and resources, as well as reduces the need for housing defendants. Most importantly, this program has significantly reduced the potential for introducing the dangerous COVID- 19 Coronavirus into the jail.
COVID-19 Coronavirus Courts Reconstitution Plan
Immediately after assuming the role as Commonwealth’s Attorney, the nation was struck with the Coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the courts throughout Virginia were closed until a plan to conduct the court’s business could be formulated and implemented. We were called on to develop that plan for the Sussex Courts. Our plan called for a reduction of the number of persons that could enter the courts and under what circumstances. It also called for reducing the number of persons to be held pending trial. We worked closely with the judges, the Sheriff, the Clerks and the defense Bar to achieve a manageable plan. Our plan which is efficient, effective was accepted and adopted by the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court and has resulted in us reopening the courts.
Court Transparency Plan
The advent of the Coronavirus has forced us to change the way that we do business in nearly every aspect of our lives. The judicial system was not immune from the effects of the pandemic. Our COVID-19 Coronavirus Courts Reconstitution Plan required that the courts be closed to the general public. We immediately recognized this as a challenge as well as an opportunity. The challenge was how to maintain transparency and the integrity of the public judicial process while ensuring the safety of the courts personnel and the public. We viewed this as an opportunity to inform the general public about what happens with criminal cases in Sussex County Circuit Court. We decided that we would publish the results of the Circuit Court proceedings in the Sussex/Surry Dispatch whenever the Court is in session and a case has been completed. The solution was creative, innovative and necessary to maintain public confidence in the judicial process during a time when the courts are closed to the general public. This plan has been met with rave reviews. So much so that we will continue to provide this service even after the virus has passed.
Cleaning Up Cold Cases
I am aggressively pursuing convictions in the County’s unsolved murder cases. I am committed to bringing those murderers to justice. As part of our plan to close these cold cases, we offered a $5000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction in the case of Loren Mason. We are working tirelessly with county, state and federal law enforcement agencies to solve all open cases involving murders. The victim’s families and the community deserve to have closure. We believe that by solving these cases, we will gain greater confidence from the public. Greater public confidence in law enforcement will hopefully result in greater cooperation in future cases. We have received and are working on the leads that we have. We are confident that we will achieve justice.
Our tireless efforts from working closely with the public and coordinating our efforts are paying off. We have tried many cases over the course of the six months that we have been in our role as your chief prosecutor. I have sought and gotten convictions and active jail time in our most serious cases. Those cases typically involve violent felonies such as rape, robbery and narcotics. Our efforts have resulted is us achieving and maintaining a 100 percent conviction rate in all courts and all cases! Our courts are running smoother, our witnesses and victims are better informed, and our law enforcement teams are becoming more confident in our leadership as the County’s chief law enforcement officer. We are committed to keeping Sussex County safe. Going forward, we are anticipating the schools reopening. We are actively planning and anticipating visiting our children, the teachers and administration. Safe schools are a major priority. Lastly, we are placing a greater emphasis on animal abuse. I am working closely with our County’s Animal Control Officers to ensure that