Judge Robert Cupp
Washington County Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp said he’s fed up with law enforcement officers who don’t respond to requests from the district attorney general’s office about cases, which ends up clogging the docket.
Two days this week at least three cases had to be reset because the defendants had not yet been indicted and the responsibility for that apparently landed in an officer’s lap.
One case involved a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper who didn’t show up for a grand jury, so that case wasn’t heard, and the other two involved Washington County sheriff’s officers.
Cupp asked Assistant District Attorney General Robin Ray why the cases were not indicted. She said she didn’t have the information she needed to prepare the indictment for the last grand jury meeting, which took place earlier this month.
When Cupp pressed Ray for additional information, she said she asked the officers for the information, but had not received a timely response.
“I’m not going to tolerate this conduct,” Cupp said Wednesday, with an obvious tone of ire in his voice. “You need to send a memo to the sheriff’s office. The next time I see a case that should have gone to the grand jury that didn’t, I’ll dismiss it and I’ll do it with prejudice this time. I don’t care what it is,” he said.
Dismissing a case with prejudice would mean the state could not re-initiate the case again by taking it to a grand jury later.
Cupp previously expressed his displeasure with the sheriff’s office over the same issue. He dismissed an aggravated burglary case on the spot when he learned an officer had not responded to the district attorney general’s request for additional information.
A sheriff’s office spokeswoman said the department believes it’s a matter of miscommunication.
“I have talked to the district attorney and we are going to sit down together and find out where the problem lies. We don’t know where the discrepancy is,” said Leighta Laitinen, chief operating officer at the sheriff’s office.
“If it’s on our end we will fix it. And the DA has assured us he will do the same.”