Thursday, September 14, 2000

Panel to study DUI prosecutions

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — A state panel plans to study an alleged pattern of weak prosecution in drunken driving cases for several counties.

        The request came from Attorney General Ben Chandler, who has asked the Kentucky Criminal Justice Council to probe whether some district courts frequently dismiss or reduce charges in drunken driving cases despite strong evidence.

        “I think it's incredibly important that our laws be enforced uniformly across the commonwealth,” Mr. Chandler said Tuesday.

        The issue came to light following a series by the Lexington Herald-Leader in July that also documented some judges issuing lighter punishment than was required by law in some cases.

        Justice Secretary Robert Stephens, the council's chairman, asked a subcommittee to map out the decision-making process behind a DUI case, and determine where cases can be sidetracked. The subcommittee also needs to collect its own statistics to learn how many DUI cases are lost before trial, he said.

        DUI cases dropped by the courts ranged from 2 percent in Lewis County to 50 percent in Owsley County, the analysis says. The statewide average was 19 percent.


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