Juvenile Court Seeks Third DA

More and more kids are committing crimes, and the courts are just trying to keep up. Recently they asked county commissioners for money to hire more people to handle the large caseload. Juvenile court judges hope to have a new prosecutor in place one month from today.

They need that person to help fight crime, but the funding is still up in the air.

Juvenile court judge LeRoy Burke is one of three judges handling cases involving children. But it's going to be hard from him to hold court when there are only two prosecutors.

"We have three judges and we have a caseload that calls for three judges, and if we can get the business of the court done in three courtrooms, then it gives us more time to do things in depth," he said.

That means spending more time with childhood criminals. The judges want more time to talk to them, and help them find rehabilitating resources so they don't commit more crimes.

"You can use a cookie-cutter approach or you try to get more personal and spend more time with them," Judge Burke.

Juvenile court officials won't know if they are getting a third prosecutor for at least another two weeks, but county commissioners say it is an issue they are taking very seriously. The funding would come from next year's county budget. At this point, it's still in a workshop stage.

Commission chairman Pete Liakakis says he's pushing for a third DA. "They are charged with bringing people who have committed crimes--juveniles or adults--to the court system, and it's important that we support them the best we can, but we have to look at all these issues and do the best we can with the resources we have."

Juvenile court officials are keeping their fingers crossed.

The juvenile judges believe one way to cut down on crime in Chatham County is take care of the problem early on, and that starts with the kids already in trouble.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com