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New DA meets with police chiefs to promote cooperation

Published January 31. 2012 05:01PM

A meeting with police chiefs and the new Schuylkill County district attorney took place over the noon hour Monday at the Schuylkill County Courthouse in Pottsville.

District Attorney Karen Byrnes Noon addressed the group on the manner she plans to conduct her office and promised better communications between her office and the local police departments. She exchanged cell phone numbers to improve the communication and asked questions as to any procedural changes in producing cases against defendants.

She presented to each officer a discovery checklist which she hopes they will follow in preparing cases.

The checklist is to guide the officer. It deals in police reports which should include names of any assisting officers, accident reconstruction information, copies of written statements from the defendant, victim and witness, signed medical releases, photographs of accidents, repair estimates, breathalyzer results, lab information and surveillance and confessions. She stressed getting the evidence to a lab as quickly as possible because the lab work takes time and could hold up a case.

She dwelt on juvenile court procedures pointing out that the prosecuting officer appears in court for hearings and it may include taking his testimony. She reminded them that juvenile cases are closed cases which under the Juvenile Act the general public is excluded so that the testimony they hear at the court hearing must be kept confidential.

Noon introduced the new first assistant district attorney, Attorney William Reiley, who spoke about a seminar planned for police March 12-15 at the Pottsville Club. Also introduced was her new chief detective, Dennis Clark, and new detective, Joseph Lipsett.

One of the questions raised by the chiefs was for the district attorney to coordinate a better relationship between the police and magisterial district judges. Chief Joseph Murton, Pottsville, claimed the police have one set of rules and the magistrates their own rules.

Noon asked for better information from police on drunk driving cases, if they have knowledge if the defendants had any previous driving under the influence (DUI) convictions because it means a big difference in the prosecution.

The hourlong meeting appeared productive and informative and a better working understanding appeared to be reached between the DA and the police departments.

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