KCUR News
3:19 pm
Mon August 30, 2010

How Many Stitches Does it Take to....?

Kansas City, MO – The handling of some types of criminal cases in Kansas City in Jackson County prompts a member of the city's Board of Police Commissioners to schedule a meeting with the county prosecutor. The issue is the volume of violent assault crimes that wind up in municipal court, mingled with the traffic cases normally found there .

For years police detectives have decided which cases to direct to state court where penalties are stiffer, or city court where a conviction is more likely on a less serious charge.

There's been a tacit understanding that not all aggravated assault cases will go to the county where the caseload is large. Police aren't always pleased to make the decision and Chief Jim Corwin says so-- " for my 31 years on the job, it has always been a lively discussion about what goes to municipal court and what goes to state court."

Documents show 22 times the first half of this year the county prosecutor declined to file an aggravated assault charge. Sometimes those go to city court.

The number of stitches to heal a victim is one of the criteria that decides which court will take a case.

Police Commissioner Alvin Brooks says he'll meet with the County Prosecutor to learn more. He cites a situation where a woman was threatened with death and beaten by an ex husband who was just out of prison for murder. Brooks expresses dismay that "it ends up in city court. I've really got some problem with that".

Police Board President Pat McInerney tells colleagues to remember, a prosecutor has an ethical obligation to refuse to file charges when a case can't be proved beyond reasonable doubt.