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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Sebastian County Prosecutor deflects FOIA questions concerning "stated conviction rate" of office

The Sebastian County Circuit Court Clerk office and the office of the Sebastian County Prosecutor both deflected Today in Fort Smith's lawful request for information regarding the operations of their offices with their Thursday responses to those requests.

Today in Fort Smith made queries into several items involving the local circuit courts prosecution rate and various functions of the Court where it relates to adjudicating cases before the bench.

Both responses were essentially the same. Both entities claim they are not custodians of the records we sought and directed us to the Arkansas Administrative Office of the Court to obtain the information we were seeking.

The same request for Information will be made to the Arkansas Administrative Office of the Court and legal advice will be sought since the entities failed to answer at least one basic question about the Court's "stated successful prosecution rate".

Today in Fort Smith was seeking the information for a series of stories we are planning to write about the local court system and the revolving door of justice that leaves citizens of Sebastian County to deal with increasing crime rates and the presence of serious criminal activities and individuals in the area.

Before the Circuit Court recently altered the way they posted the information about daily court sessions, TFS identified an inordinate number of cases that were being closed with plea deals, a number of which were assigned little or no jail time to the convicted criminals. In addition, numerous cases were settled with a plea deal and the convicted felon was given suspended imposition of sentences for a determined number of years and essentially avoided jail time.

A particularly large number of those cases involved possession of controlled substances, crimes against persons, and various other offenses.

The intent of our planned stories where to point out these lackadaisical efforts by the County Prosecutor's office in dealing with adjudicating these various cases.

As earlier stated, both offices essentially refused to supply us with most of the information we sought. Particularly disturbing was the fact that the prosecutor's office wouldn't even respond to our request for a "stated successful prosecution rate" for the office.

The only conclusion that we can come to for being refused that basic information is either that office has no idea what their prosecution rate is or they felt no reason to respond to our lawful request for whatever reason.

Utilizing the usual canard of "not being the custodians of the records" for the information we were asking for, the prosecutor's office dodged the proverbial bullet for the time being. requeted.

To better clarify, this is the actual freedom of information request we made to both entities;

This is the response we received from the office of Sebastian County Prosecutor Daniel Shue. The response that we received from Sebastian County Circuit clerk Susie Haslett was essentially identical in it's wording and response.

Today in Fort Smith will continue to seek to obtain the information we requested through FOIA requests in an effort to inform the public on the functions pf the court and its' officers.

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