Thursday, June 25, 2009

SAO slips up on victim notification

Last Friday the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office (SAO) wrote a letter or notice of a court date to a victim of a 2008 Woodstock window-peeping case. It was dated June 20 (Friday). It informed the victim that the alleged perpetrator was to be in court on Tuesday, June 24, at 9:00AM.

This victim has requested that she be informed of court dates and that there be no plea bargaining.

All well and good. Right? Wrong.

The problem is that the letter wasn't mailed until Monday, June 23, according to the postmark or postage-meter date on the envelope. And so it was delivered Tuesday afternoon - after the court date and time!

It could be that the person stuffing the Notice into the envelope on Friday "thought" it would go out in that day's mail. This is a problem that needs to be fixed at the SAO. There are many ways to fix that.

Clear posting of "Mail must be here (Mailroom) by ___ P.M. to go out today."
Employees elsewhere in the offices must know of the deadline.
Employees must "think" about the mail deadline.
Mailroom employees must get the mail out to a mailbox.

A quick phone call about a fast-approaching court date would be in order; even an email, which takes only seconds to send (by an organized, efficient staffer).

If mail reaches the mailroom after the cut-off on a Friday, it should be stamped and placed in a mailbox, where it would be picked up on Saturday and delivered locally on Monday.

Mail should not be allowed to sit in the SAO over the week-end! If a matter is handled late on Friday, put a $.44 stamp on it and mail it. A few dozen stamps should be on hand for last-minute mailings.

Reminder to victims and witnesses. You can call the court clerk's office regularly to ask about upcoming court dates. Call 815.334.4000 during business hours.

There used to be an automated system for court date information, but it was apparently abandoned a while back. It would be nice in the McHenry County Courts came into the space age and utilized a system like the Wisconsin system. You can check that one out


The Madd Bulldog said...

Now this type of info is a valuable public service for all, and makes coming to your blogpage that much more enjoyable!
What happened... your VW Bug got a flat tire? One would typically expect one of your trivial traffic/parking/etc rants while you're out "looking" for trouble.
Have you been diagnosed as "bipolar"?

Another Lawyer said...

As a note: victim's don't decide whether there will be plea bargaining--prosecutors do.

Gus said...

And an important Note that is. But why should prosecutors (only) get to choose whether to bargain a deal for a lesser charge, when a victim has to live with the after-effects? Do they commonly confer with the victim or merely inform them, if even that?