Tuesday, April 23, 2019 Medina 56°

Cops & Courts

Medina County public defender: Case videos piling up


MEDINA — Viewing electronic and video evidence is adding to the workload for the Medina County Public Defender’s Office, the department’s chief told county commissioners this week.

“On average, we are receiving three to four DVDs associated with a criminal investigation,” Chief Public Defender Jocelyn Stefancin said in her status report to commissioners Tuesday.

“Each DVD averages 1½ hours of viewing time, per attorney. So if you have four DVDs on a case, you can see where the manpower is adding up.”

In felony cases, she said, there are on average 15 DVDs, and in June there were 55 pending felony cases.

She said Medina Municipal Court opened 80 new cases in June, and there were 50 in Wadsworth Municipal Court and 15 in Medina County Juvenile Court. She said the new cases amount to hundreds of hours for her attorneys viewing videos.

“When you look at where my staff attorneys are spending their time, in addition to their court appearances and their office appearances, they are spending the majority of their time reviewing videos in order to be prepared for those particular cases,” Stefancin said.

“You have to view every piece of evidence that comes in. Each video has three or four different officers, different angles and different interviews. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into making up those 600 new cases (on average) that are pending each month.”

The DVDs include body and dash cams, as well as videotaped interviews.

“If they are interviewing a witness to a case or a victim to a case, that’s going to be another hour and a half, sometimes two hours of video that we have to review,” she said. “It does make a difference in terms of behind-the-scenes work the attorneys are doing to be prepared for trial.”

In June, Stefancin said, her office handled eight trials.

She has a staff of six attorneys who handle cases on per-needed basis in Medina and Wadsworth municipal courts, Medina County Common Pleas Court and Medina County Juvenile Court. The public defender’s office was created in 2003 as an alternative to hiring outside legal counsel for indigent clients.

State law requires people arrested for crimes that could result in incarceration be represented by an attorney appointed by the courts if they are declared indigent.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.
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