By Myrna Trauntvein
In June, Nephi put out a request for proposals for prosecution services in anticipation of the departure of Jared Eldridge, former county attorney and city prosecutor.
Eldridge was recently named as a Fourth District Court Judge, thus creating the vacancy.
“We had one response from Perry Davis, who has been the county’s deputy attorney,” said Seth Atkinson, city administrator.
“We are getting a backload of cases,” said Mark Jones, mayor. “We need to replace our prosecuting attorney.”
The cases were just piling up waiting to be addressed and a prosecuting attorney, acting for the city, was needed soon.
At the meeting two weeks ago, the council agreed to table the topic. When it was addressed again this Tuesday, it was agreed on a three to one vote to accept the proposal from Davis. While there are five council members, Nathan Memmott was not present.
Council members Greg Rowley, Larry Ostler and Kent Park voted aye and Justin Seely voted nay.
The council had, prior to Tuesday’s meeting, received and reviewed the proposal from Davis.
“He has worked on our cases in the past and is very familiar with the Nephi City Justice Court,” said Atkinson.
Davis’s proposal cost is the same as the amount received by Jared Eldridge, when he served as prosecution attorney for the city, said Atkinson, but he has also requested that if the staff salaries receive a cost-of-living adjustment each year, that his contract be increased by the same percentage.
“I would request that increase to offset the fact that the state court system has pushed a lot of what was previously court clerk labor (e.g. electronic file creation, electronic document filing, etc.) to the county and city attorney’s offices without providing any additional funding to those offices to perform that labor,” wrote Davis in his proposal.
In order to fill the vacancy left by Mr. Eldridge, the city staff recommended awarding the contract to Perry Davis for prosecution services.
Davis said that he and his staff were ready to begin serving the city immediately.
“We are already performing much of those services in that we already screen Nephi City cases, run Nephi City criminal histories, advise Nephi City Police officers, and are available by phone 24/7 to respond to those officers’ questions and needs,” wrote Davis.
“It is also more expeditious and less duplicative to keep those services in our office because we screen all the criminal cases in Juab County, including Nephi City cases, before those cases are assigned to a particular court,” he said.
“Once we have screened a case and decided that it stays in the Nephi City Court, we can easily file the case in city court and proceed with prosecution,” Davis wrote. “With an outside attorney, we would have to forward the case to the outside attorney who would then have to request the police report from the police department, run a criminal history, etc.--all actions we already will have completed in our initial screening--and then file the case in city court.”
Atkinson said that the city would like to begin tracking the hours of the prosecuting attorney. Some months there might be more work and some months there might be less.
“We have requested the same information from indigent counsel,” he said.
If a person is charged with a crime who does not have sufficient income to afford a lawyer for defense in a criminal case and if the court finds a person is an indigent, the court must appoint a defender to represent that indigent person.
Data was needed, he said, and through this coming year it would be collected.
Rowley made the motion to authorize the mayor to sign the contract subject to Davis agreeing to log hours.h4>