Saturday, September 14, 2002

Kenton Co. boasts DUI convictions


Political opponent questions credit, scrutinizes statistics

By Patrick Crowley, pcrowley@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Ninety-five percent of the people charged with drunk driving in Kenton County during the second quarter of this year were convicted, according to County Attorney Garry Edmondson.

Edmondson
Edmondson
        The rate was an increase over his office's 94 percent conviction during the first three months of the year and is a result of aggressive law enforcement and prosecution along with a police officer education program, Mr. Edmondson, the county's lead prosecutor, said in a press release he issued this week.

        “Many people risk drinking and driving because they do not believe they will be caught,” said Mr. Edmondson, a Fort Wright Republican running for re-election in the fall. “That simply is not true in Kenton County. Our police officers will arrest drunk drivers and my office will convict them.”

        Mr. Edmondson said officers from seven area departments achieved a 100 percent conviction rate: Ludlow, Villa Hills, Edgewood, Taylor Mill, Lakeside Park/Crestview Hills, Park Hills and the Kenton County and Boone County sheriff's departments.

        Park Hills posted the 100 percent conviction rate for the second straight quarter.

        Crescent Springs Democrat Kate Molloy, who is challenging Mr. Edmondson in the fall, questioned the timing of the release.

        “It seems we always get information like this from Mr. Edmondson at election time,” said Ms. Molloy, a lawyer with the Covington law firm of Arnzen and Wentz.

        Mr. Edmondson said the statistics for the period between April and June of this year are only coming out now because it takes time to compile the statistics from the 293 DUI cases his office handled during that period.

        “It's a laborious process,” Mr. Edmondson said Thursday night. “We literally take every file and go over it, analyzing it, and finding how we handled the case. And then compile all the data.

        “I'm not sure she understands the issue,” he said. “If she wants to challenge the statistics, she should come down to the clerk's office, pull out every case we handled, look at them and tell me what she would have done differently.”

        Ms. Molloy commended the police departments with the 100 percent conviction rates, which she said probably had more to do with how the police officers performed than how Mr. Edmondson and his assistant prosecutors handled the cases.

        Though she offered no specifics, Ms. Molloy said from her conversations with area police officers “the departments' relationship with the county attorney's office is not a good one.”

        Mr. Edmondson said there are occasions when his assistant prosecutors clash with police officers over how a case should be prosecuted.

        “But my office has an excellent relationship with the police,” he said. “We were endorsed by the (Fraternal Order of Police unions) in the primary ... and we hope to get those endorsements again.”

        Of the nearly 300 DUI cases prosecuted, Mr. Edmondson said 12 had to be amended because the blood-alcohol level was too low for conviction or the arresting officer failed to provide a blood alcohol level or any field sobriety test during the defendant's trial.

        “That's a high number of amended cases,” said Ms. Molloy. “This isn't a knock on the police, but if Garry Edmondson is educating police officers as he claims those cases shouldn't be amended for those reasons.”

        Mr. Edmondson said most of the 12 cases were amended during trials. He said in one particular case a defendant had a blood-alcohol level of .08 — the level a driver is presumed drunk under Kentucky law — but a judge amended the case because he did not believe the defendant was drunk.

        “Based on evidence brought out in the trial the judge said the defendant was tipsy but not under the influence,” Mr. Edmondson said. “Those things happen in trials. But we do work hard on educating officers. That's one of the reasons we go over every case, so we can show officers what they might have done wrong. And it's paid off when you look at our conviction rate.” E-mail pcrowleyenqui

        ials. He said in one particular case a defendant had a blood-alcohol level of .08 — the level a driver is presumed drunk under Kentucky law — but a judge amended the case because he did not believe the defendant was drunk.

        “Based on evidence brought out in the trial the judge said the defendant was tipsy but not under the influence,” Mr. Edmondson said. “Those things happen in trials. But we do work hard on educating officers. That's one of the reasons we go over every case, so we can show officers what they might have done wrong. And it's paid off when you look at our conviction rate.”
        DUIFrom Page DUI: Kenton County convictions boasted

       



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