Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said the high number of cases tossed out this year is a waste of resources and a concern for public safety, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The DA’s office reported that local judges and magistrates had ruled there was no probable cause due to insufficient evidence in 3,217 felony and misdemeanor cases this year, a 70 percent increase from 2015, the newspaper wrote. More than half of those cases (1,656) came from the Houston Police Department.
Ogg said in a letter Wednesday to area police chiefs that this wasn’t “a situation of our making.”
“Every one of these decisions is being made by our local magistrates and judiciary and should be of critical concern in terms of just how far our limited resources can be stretched as we strive together to keep Harris County safe,” she wrote.
Judge Darrell Jordan, the presiding judge over the criminal courts in Harris County, said the DA’s office must make the decision to pursue or dismiss a case after a finding of no probable cause. He told the Chronicle that he asked to meet with Ogg to discuss the issue in late June and she hasn’t responded.
“This is one of many examples where Ogg tells half the story in order to paint herself in a positive light,” Jordan told the newspaper. “Integrity matters, especially when we are dealing with community safety. If this was a true concern, why wouldn’t she come talk to the judges?”
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told the Chronicle that the increase in case dismissals is disheartening and said the local criminal justice system “is focused on everything but keeping people safe.”
Pasadena Police Chief Josh Bruegger said he would like for judges to provide feedback to officers when they determine no probable cause so the officers can present stronger cases in the future.
“At the end of the day, as long as everybody’s following the law, I’m not going to second-guess the judge’s decisions,” Bruegger told the newspaper. “There’s something we need to change as far as the process or procedure.”