• 75°

Thirty-six new indictments handed down

Lincoln County grand jurors this week returned an additional 36indictments, bringing to 77 the total for the June term, courtofficials said.

This week’s two-day term was a continuation of a two-day termheld in mid-June when 41 indictments were issued. The session wassplit because of a trial that had been scheduled during the firstterm.

Court officials cited the short time between terms and theabsence of bad check cases, which usually total about 15 to 20, asreasons for the small number of indictments. The DistrictAttorney’s Office’s bad check unit is in transition afterCoordinator Chad Vaughn left to take another job earlier thismonth.

“We had a few burglaries and robberies,” said Assistant DistrictAttorney Jerry Rushing, adding that there were no murder ormanslaughter cases. “I’m very pleased with that.”

There was, however, one full day devoted to hearing drug andDriving Under the Influence cases. Rushing said there were somechild abuse cases bound over for presentation to the grandjury.

Regarding the DUI cases, Rushing pointed out that anyoneconvicted of a third offense DUI after Sept. 1, 2000, faces amandatory one-year minimum incarceration. That incarceration caninclude house arrest, which is what some defendants are alreadygetting.

“We’ve never given straight probation on DUI 3rds,” Rushingsaid. “We require them to get treatment, and we’re able to monitorthem for a while.”

Those indicted this week are in the process of being served withcourt papers. Defendants’ names are not made public until they areserved.

Defendants are scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 10 before JudgeMike Smith.

According to the grand jury report, jurors heard testimony from37 additional witnesses. In addition to the indictments, grandjurors returned one case to a lower court for further dispositionand continued eight cases for further investigation.

The grand jury voted not to return indictments in seven cases.Rushing said those decisions were likely due to insufficientevidence.

Rushing pointed out that grand jury indictments are secret. Hesaid district attorney officials are not present duringdeliberations or votes on indictments.

“Most people think we’re in there telling them what to do, butthat’s their decision,” Rushing said.