After another jam-packed week, it is hard to believe we are a full month into this project. There’s much to cover, so I’ll dive in.
* After the surge of Covid cases in our building (our people continue to recover, thank you), I discovered the Office had not yet asked to be designated in the 1B category under “community protectors.” I was surprised, as we have large, impressive units of both employees and volunteers who act as first responders out in the community to render aid at trauma scenes. And then, from the public health perspective, they return to our aging, 21-floor, somewhat ventilated, paper-driven office tower where all are sharing elevators and bathrooms. Social distancing had been nearly impossible. We took the building almost completely remote to stem the tide of the Covid surge, and then getting this group of 377 designated as 1B became my top priority. I am intensely relieved to report that we are nearing the halfway mark now of getting our workforce vaccinated with more appointments to come.
* As promised, our first Office-wide, all-prosecutor training on a top issue occurred this week: immigration consequences to criminal charges. We had over 60 attorneys participate, despite their very heavy caseloads. Matthew Green, a regional immigration law expert with a national reputation took us through the critical steps we must take to identify someone’s risk for deportation when charged. As I stated at the meeting, “We each need the training and resources to make sure that, when we resolve cases, we aren’t unintentionally helping to sign a deportation order.” This is the first step among many we’ll take to minimize family separation.
* The legislative season is well under way, and I have been able to participate in the stakeholder process on helping the State itself move forward toward criminal Justice reform.
* Our budget was also due this week. Last August, I knew it was time to put an end to a 20-year discussion on taking the Office paperless, but this past month proved how difficult and perilous it can be to remain so paper-driven. It has certainly caused my employees terrible angst during Covid, but the threat to the preservation of evidence with an antiquated paper file system is real. After interviewing and demonstrating three separate products, we have pitched the proposal to the County.
* Rick Unklesbay is known locally and nationally for his epic history of prosecuting the most difficult and most high-profile cases of our day. It was with great pleasure to see his latest win: A tremendous resolution in the name of justice. Working with the victim, appellate attorneys, and the person convicted, Rick went back to a case he prosecuted 29 years ago, took it to Court to show the redemption and rehabilitation achieved behind prison walls, and (successfully) asked for a Second Chance on behalf of the person who had been sentenced to life in prison. The case will be featured tonight at 6 and 10 on Tucson’s NBC affiliate, News 4 Tucson – KVOA.
To be continued,