Clallam criminal case filings down slightly in 2006

PORT ANGELES – The number of criminal cases filed in Clallam County Superior Court in 2006 is about 35 fewer than were filed in record-breaking 2005.

But that doesn’t mean that crime is on the decline, county Prosecuting Attorney Deborah Kelly said Friday.

In 2006, about 600 cases were filed, she said.

In 2005 — a year that saw more criminal cases filed in the court that handles felonies than ever – 635 were filed.

“We may be down a little bit, but my sense is that we’re pretty close,” she said.

Superior courts in the state have exclusive jurisdiction on felony matters.

Clallam County has two Superior Court judges but is considering a third.

On Dec. 4, Clallam County commissioners delayed a decision on funding a third Superior Court judge until the county’s Law and Justice Council advisory group including Sheriff Bill Benedict could weigh in on the question.

The Law and Justice Council will meet at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in courtroom 2 in the Clallam County Courthouse.

Funding for a third court would total almost $100,000.

Kelly attributed the slight dip in criminal case filings to deputy prosecutors using more discretion in charging, concentrating on moving old cases through the courts and more deputies falling ill and needing to take time off of work.

There was a slight lull in criminal charges in late November with four days passing without a single felony charge.

“It picked back up near the end,” Kelly said.

“I’m not even convinced necessarily there was that much of a lull.”

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