The following is reprinted from the Oconee County Observations blog
By Lee Becket
Responsibility for prosecution of five types of misdemeanors in Oconee County will shift from the Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney to a Magistrate Court prosecutor as a result of action taken by the County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night.
Included is prosecution of shoplifting cases, which Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell said makes up the bulk of misdemeanor cases in the county.
Daniell said the case load will be “a couple hundred cases per year.”
The county will pay prosecutor Jason Slider $1,500 per month, and the money will come from pre-trial diversion fees paid by offenders, Daniell said.
The Board took this action on Tuesday after a brief executive session at the end of its regular meeting.
During the regular meeting, the Board approved three rezone requests, approved Fiscal Year 2023 Year End Budget Amendments, and agreed to pay $547,220 as the county’s share of the costs of design services for an expansion of the Bear Creek Water Treatment Plant in Jackson County.
In the Public Comment section at the beginning of the meeting, David Clementson thanked the Oconee County Library staff in Watkinsville for holding a Christmas story time with a nativity focus on Nov. 4.
Clementson said he felt it was important to publicly praise the library staff after it was criticized in June for hosting a “drag queen homosexual children’s story time.”
Magistrate Court Prosecutor
Daniell described the decision to move parts of Magistrate Court prosecution responsibility from the District Attorney Office to a Magistrate Court Prosecutor as a “win-win situation for our citizens.”
Slider will have responsibility for prosecution of five types of misdemeanors spelled out in Georgia Code: possession of less than one ounce of marijuana; misdemeanor theft by shoplifting; misdemeanor refund fraud; furnishing alcoholic beverages to, and possession of alcoholic beverages by, a person under 21 years of age; and criminal trespass.
The appointment of Slider is effective next month.
At present, Slider prosecutes violations of county ordinances, such as for code infractions and animal control violations, and he will continue to have that responsibility.
“I appreciate the support of all the stakeholders in this,” Daniell said at the end of the executive session.
Daniell said after the meeting that “shoplifting is a big number” of misdemeanor cases in the county.
Moving the shoplifting cases to a Magistrate Court Prosecutor will “take some of the pressure off” the District Attorney Office so it can concentrate on other misdemeanor violations, he said.