First year in office productive for DA

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 30, 2010



LAPLACE – With a little more than a year under his belt, St. John the Baptist Parish District Attorney Tom Daley said Monday he has instituted several facility and technological improvements that have helped make his office run more efficiently.

Facility improvements begin with a complete consolidation of the DA’s east bank offices into one location just off Belle Terre Boulevard in LaPlace. Daley said the move, which was fully completed in February 2009, brings assistant district attorneys and DA investigators under one roof and allows for a staff member from his office to be available to deal with the public at all times.

“It makes it much more convenient for the public when they have dealings with the office,” Daley said. “In the new place, there will always be someone, whether it be an investigator or assistant, to handle the public’s concerns and questions.”

Daley has also taken steps to upgrade the Acuri Center in LaPlace, which is often used as an east bank annex to the main courthouse in Edgard. The building now has sturdier furniture, new flooring and more outdoor covering to protect people having to stand outside prior to court proceedings.

“The building is much more presentable and a much more worthy facility for a courtroom setting,” Daley said.

At the St. John Parish Courthouse in Edgard, Daley said he has worked to implement a new filing system and rearranged the interior of his offices to combat major space concerns.

“Current closed records have been moved into storage facilities, while records older than 20 years old have been destroyed with approval from the Louisiana State Archives,” Daley said. “We have also used a $60,000 federal grant to electronically integrate DA data and records and Sheriff’s Office data and records with the St. John Clerk of Court system. Not only does this save us a tremendous amount of space, it also provides us with a data back up should some sort of disaster affect our offices.”

Other technological advancements include creation of a Web site that includes a schedule of fines, information on victims’ assistance and answers to frequently asked questions, along with implementation of an e-mail system for all DA employees.

Daley also addressed a streamlined system for handling prosecution of court cases across all three divisions in St. John Parish.

Each division now has a felony prosecution team that includes two prosecutors and one investigator who in turn work with the two public defenders assigned to a specific division. Daley meets with each group once a month to discuss the month’s docket information.

“We’ve also created a felony docket system that began in Division B and is now used in all three of the judges courtrooms,” Daley said.

“Prosecutors and public defenders are now presented with all court dates at one time in an effort to minimize continuances and move dockets along more efficiently. The dates are not iron clad and can still be adjusted. It just gives all participants a general benchmark.”

In an effort to give more attention to misdemeanor offenders, Daley said he has plans this summer to implement a misdemeanor notification program to provide more follow up to minor offenders.

“It starts with placing them on probation,” Daley said. “The offender meets once a month with an assigned officer, who monitors community service and payment of fines. Our goal is to assist them in staying out of our system for good while also letting them know we are paying attention to their conduct.”