Number of offenders serving prison time up slightly
In addition to those whom Johnson sentenced with prison time, he also sentenced three people to one year of house arrest.
Six of the 55 indictments were entered nolle prosequi — or dismissed without prejudice — by Harper’s office for various reasons. Reasons cited included lack of sufficient evidence, unavailability of witnesses or revocation of probation on another conviction.
Harper said his office cannot conduct investigations.
“They don’t work for me,” Harper said of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.
“Often time I find out a crime was committed when I read about it in (the) newspaper,” Harper said.
But Harper said his office is available to make suggestions about what evidence can help firm up a case.
Mayfield estimated at least 35 percent of his cases depend upon witness testimony, and the passage of the time it takes for a case to become trial-ready can affect the testimony or witness availability.
“In the criminal world, (witnesses) get lost,” Mayfield said. “With so many cases, you just can’t keep up with every witness to every case.”
Additionally, stories can change or be disputed, Mayfield said.
Another sentencing option both judges often use is suspending a sentence for a number of years. In handing down a suspended sentence, Harper said, judges allow offenders the opportunity to remain out of prison unless they violate terms of their PRS or probation, in effect, hanging the sentence over their heads.
Johnson sentenced nine offenders to a total of 60 years suspended.
Sanders sentenced 10 offenders a total of 32 years and 360 days suspended.
Suspended sentences, in most cases, were handed down in addition to time served, post-release supervision or probation.
Mayfield said it often is not fair to judge a sample of several cases, because each case is different and has its own complexities and problems, in some cases.
Mayfield said it can be frustrating how cases are resolved at times, but he often understands when considering the circumstances.
“At this point, we’ve got a pretty good relationship with our prosecutor and the judges,” Mayfield said.
Messages to Johnson and Sanders were unreturned Thursday. They have both served in their positions since 1995.
Information on the 55 cases from 2012 is based on the most recent criminal dispositions — documents containing the court’s final determination of a charge — filed at the Adams County Circuit Clerk’s office from April to July. The same data was collected for September to November.