Nolle Prosequi (Nol Pross): A decision by the prosecuting attorney, filed with the court, that a case will not be further prosecuted.
This will be the first of a series that will take a look at the criminal justice system in Bossier Parish. There will be some good things to report and some that are questionable.
From the outside looking in, it’s easy to say that the DA should be tough on crime and not plead so many cases. Realistically, there aren’t enough courtrooms, enough judges, enough prisons or enough time in the day to prosecute every case to its fullest. The DA has to make selective decisions; the question is, are they always the right ones?
The most serious charges such as murder or aggravated rape are certain to be prosecuted and most go to trial. We have written about the case of Lance Thamm, who will be on trial later this year for the murder of his 18 month old daughter. This case, I am sure, will be vigorously prosecuted.
On less serious charges, discretion comes into play. This is where we are concentrating.
I don’t think anyone objects to diversion programs for young first offenders. Everyone believes that young people deserve a second chance, and the courts have good programs to offer that opportunity. Some take advantage of it to change their lives, other don’t.
In a lot of cases, charges are pled by dropping a minor charge or two and accepting a guilty plea on a more serious charge. This allows the court to deal with an offender without going through a long trial.
In some cases, the law probably needs to be tweaked in order to properly prosecute cases. Domestic violence is one instance. Lance Thamm, who we mentioned above, was charged with domestic violence in February of 2007. Nothing at all was done on the case for a year. In January of 2008 he was charged again with domestic violence as well as a drug charge. He entered a plea of not guilty. In February he killed his daughter by slamming her head against a door jamb. Would vigorous prosecution of the 2007 charge have made a difference? Probably not, it was a first time misdemeanor. If the laws were toughened, would it make a difference? We will be asking the District Attorney’s office a couple of these questions and get their response.
Coming up next week, should a repeat offender, someone who served multiple jail terms and still faced multiple charges, have been given the advantage of having several of those charges, including five felonies, dropped so one conviction could be obtained?