The newly created Case Analysis & Pre-trial Evaluation (C.A.P.E.) Unit will have the duty of initially reviewing cases as they are received in the office from referring law enforcement agencies in the community. With the goals of the Office and District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez in mind, the Unit will focus on the initial evaluation of these case, the involved individuals, and any unique circumstances to determine the direction the case should take following an arrest or referral for prosecution.
Staffed with devoted Assistant District Attorneys, Victim-Witness Advocates, and Investigators, the C.A.P.E. Unit will individually review available evidence, contact victims and witnesses for additional feed-back, and correspond with law enforcement and defense attorneys in its task of evaluating cases received following an arrest. With the shared goal of achieving restorative justice and a resolution for each case, the Unit will make an initial recommendation for the direction of the case upon taking the above-mentioned steps. This analysis and recommendation includes reviewing referred charges and drafting charging documents, transferring cases to the Solicitor-General for misdemeanor accusations where appropriate, making referrals to the Office’s Pre-Trial Diversion Programs, the Circuit’s Accountability Courts, or to other restorative and rehabilitation programs. Upon considering the circumstances of each case, when evidence is lacking or where the Office cannot meet required burdens for prosecution, the C.A.P.E. Unit may also dismiss cases prior to the filing of an indictment or accusation.
At first, the Unit will focus on reviewing any uncharged cases following the COVID-19 pandemic, thereby assisting the Office in achieving a full rebound following the Judicial Emergency issued by the Supreme Court of Georgia in March of 2020 where many court proceedings were suspended, including the Grand Jury.
By evaluating, charging, dismissing, and/or making proper recommendations on these existing uncharged cases, other Assistant District Attorneys on the trial-line will be better enabled to focus on the cases as they appear on court calendars or for those cases requiring a jury trial.
Ultimately, the C.A.P.E. Unit will seek to make an earlier evaluation and recommendation when cases are received in the office. The Unit’s staff will devote particularized attention to each case so that a greater appreciation can be made that each case impacts the lives of many people within our community, including victims, witnesses, and those who have been accused. The Unit will further assist the Office by participating in early court proceedings such as preliminary hearings and special bond hearings which often directly reflect on the direction of the case and the recommendation to made.