ATLANTA (AP) — At least 14,500 municipal court cases in Atlanta have been dismissed since 2007 because of breakdowns in communication between city officials, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://bit.ly/16XJti8) reported Saturday
Police failing to appear in court, the city solicitor's office failing to notify officers about court dates, and the court failing to notify the police department about officers failing to appear have all contributed to amount of cases that have been dismissed, the newspaper reported.
Atlanta Police Chief George Turner says the number of dismissed cases is unacceptable, and is not an issue he takes lightly.
"The number of cases being dismissed due to (officers' failure to appear) is unacceptable, and we must all work together to find a solution so that proper justice can be served," he told the newspaper. Turner said the department has been reviewing the protocol it uses to notify officers of when they're being subpoenaed for court. He also said it's the court's responsibility to properly notify police officers of when they're expected to appear in court.
The newspaper reviewed traffic tickets that were issued by a motorcycle officer in 2010 and found that 36 cases he was involved in were dismissed. Police found that the officer was only subpoenaed for three of the 36 cases, and the city solicitor's office had records indicating that the officer had been subpoenaed five times that year.
City Solicitor Raines Carter said he plans to take a closer look at the issue and meet with other city officials about it. Raines said he didn't find evidence showing that his office issued subpoenas to police officers in many cases, and no one has reported to his office that police failing to appear in court has been a problem.
The city's failure to prosecute some criminal cases has proven beneficial for some. The newspaper reports one man — who was typically arrested for ticket scalping — has had at least seven cases dismissed since 2009. Another man who was arrested for selling cigarettes at Underground Atlanta had six cases dismissed.
The newspaper reported the dismissed cases could have generated about $2 million in fines for the city.