Nelson Barnes and Barry Johnson were chastised in the Commissioners Court for being obstacles, yes, OBSTACLES, to resolving cases that could easily and fairly be resolved because they cleared out their office.
A lot of cases could have been resolved way before this if the decisions on pleas had not been left to the Junior Punitive DA’s mostly left over from the Reyna Reign. Many cases, some ridiculous, have just sat there because the assistant DA’s don’t, won’t, and haven’t listened to the mitigating evidence, and in some cases expert reports. Ask Paula Allen who recently whipped the DA’s office in a trial. Paula wasn’t about to take a ridiculous plea on a case she believed in and the jury saw it her way. Many attorneys with what they deem “stupid” cases will take their cases to trial.
It is now planned to have a prosecutor from each court in the office to negotiate cases that the defense attorneys want to plead out or talk about pleading out. The DA’s office will be available for phone calls and ask for the prosecutor for that particular court. It is said there will be a “rotation” soon and video conferencing.
The jail is planning to bring two defendants every two hours for appropriate spacing. 4 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. Ricky Armstrong at the jail is still working and very cooperative, volunteering to do whatever is necessary.
Ralph Strother and Matt Johnson will continue to sentence people to prison via video so they will stay happy till it’s over being punitive and acting as the right arm of the punishing god.