prosecutor: Statue of Lady Justice

Prosecutors Champion Legitimate, Meaningful Justice Reforms

As a career prosecutor I have spent the better part of 45 years working in all areas of the criminal justice system. I started as a juvenile court prosecutor at a time when our juvenile justice system was not nearly as adversarial as it is now but rather seemed more interested, as such cases are legally styled, in the best interest of the child.

Grant Helps States Looking to Prevent Underage Drinking

Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Assessment, Strategic Planning, and Implementation Initiative Grant is being offered by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)  This grant hopes to reduce alcohol availability to under aged kids. The Grant Aims to accomplish this through assessment, strategic planning and program implementation. Grantees will conduct an independent assessment of both state and local underage drinking and develop a long-term plan based on that assessment. This should also help reduce traffic injuries or fatalities due to underage drinking.

Update: More Charges Filed in Wreck that Killed Teen

Four adults have now been charged with supplying teens with alcohol ahead of a fatal car accident on Feb. 19 in Douglas County, according to the Sheriff’s Office. One of the adults charged is the county’s chief code enforcement officer, Todd McAllister. McAllister’s home was the site of one of two parties the teens attended the evening of the wreck. Another charged was Rocky Patel, a local story owner who allegedly sold alcohol to the teens.

UPDATE: More Charges in Douglas County DUI Wreck That Killed Teen

A fifth passenger has been identified and charged in the auto accident that killed a Douglas County, Ga., teen Feb. 19.  Dustin Lee Willis, 21, has been charged with four counts of furnishing alcohol to minors and being party to a crime (vehicular homicide), according to the Douglas County Sentinel.  Willis and the 17-year-old driver of the wrecked vehicle, Jason Lark, were also charged with evidence tampering after allegedly removing empty beer bottles from the vehicle. The passengers were travelling from a bonfire party at a home in Douglasville.  The homeowner, Richard Todd McAllister, 42, was also charged with five counts of contributing to the delinquency of minors.  Police say McAllister was at the party and aware that minors were consuming alcohol. Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Sauls was killed in the accident that left two other teens injured.  Sauls’ funeral was held Friday.

UPDATE: Funeral For Teen Killed in Auto Accident

Funeral arrangements are being finalized for a teen killed in a weekend auto accident in Douglas County. Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Sauls was killed and two other teens – Taylor Cross, 19 and Jamie McManis, 15, were injured on Friday night when the vehicle they were riding in crashed. The driver, Jason Lark, 17, has been charged with DUI and vehicular homicide along with several other traffic violations, according to the Georgia State Patrol. The GSP says a 21-year-old was also in the vehicle but left the scene before emergency vehicles arrived. The Douglas County Sentinel reports that police have located the fifth passenger, a male, but have not released any details about him or his involvement in the accident.

Father of Dead Teen Says 21-Year-Old Bought Alcohol for Crash Victims

The father of a teen killed in a Friday night crash says a 21-year-old provided alcohol to his daughter and other teens involved in the accident, according to

Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Sauls died, while Taylor Cross, 19, and Jamie McManis, 15, were injured when the vehicle they were in crashed in Douglas County, Ga., west of Atlanta, according to the Georgia State Patrol (GSP). Police have charged the driver, Jason Lark, 17, with DUI and vehicular homicide in addition to a number of other traffic violations. Eric Sauls’, the victim’s father, told CBS Atlanta that the 21-year-old left the scene of the accident before any emergency personnel arrived. While the public spokesperson for the GSP, Lt. Paul Cosper, said there was a fifth person involved, he could not confirm the age of the person. “We are still investigating who this person is,” said Cosper.

Laura Searcy: Underage Drinking Over Winter Holidays on the Rise: Incidents and Issues

The Kennesaw Police Department’s response to a citizen complaint, which resulted in the arrest of 32 people involved in an underage drinking party on December 29, is to be applauded. As law enforcement officers entrusted with maintaining the peace and protecting public safety, the KPD fulfilled their duty by enforcing the law. But recent coverage (in the Marietta Daily Journal) of this incident does not tell the whole story. “According to estimates from SAMHSA  [the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration] Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), on New Year’s Day 2009, an estimated 1,980 ED [emergency department] visits involved underage drinking, compared with 546 such visits on an average day that year; this represents nearly 4 times the average number of visits….The number of ED visits involving underage drinking was also generally higher on New Year’s Day than on an average day during either the Memorial Day weekend or the Fourth of July weekend.” The report cites “greater access to alcohol, less parental oversight and mixed messages from parents” as influencing this uptick in underage drinking and increased ED visits. The findings are in line with other research showing more alcohol-related problems over the winter holidays.