MADD to monitor Johnston County courts
Posted April 21, 2009
Smithfield, N.C. — A State Bureau of Investigation probe into an alleged ticket-fixing scheme in Johnston County has triggered the attention of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Six people, including former Johnston County prosecutor Cyndi Jaeger and former deputy court clerk Portia Snead, were indicted last month on charges that they altered court records and knowingly used illegal dismissal forms to get traffic cases against 37 people dropped.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving is so concerned about the ticket-fixing allegations that the group plans to start a court-monitoring program in Johnston County this week, said Craig Lloyd, MADD's executive director in North Carolina.
"What (the program) does is goes through and sees patterns. We have a database that looks for local, state and national trends," Lloyd said, noting MADD will also monitor cases in Harnett County.
A WRAL investigation found that 46 percent of the DWI charges filed in Johnston County in 2006 were dismissed, compared with 21 percent statewide.
"We want there to be justice in the courtrooms,” said Whitney Hendrix, Johnston County Assistant District Attorney.
Hendrix said the DWI conviction rate in Johnston County is around 90 percent.
"We hope that (the general public) trust us. We hope that they know we are doing the right thing because we are. We try to do that everyday,” Hendrix said.
Hendrix would not say if court monitoring would have caught the past dismissals, but said data on courtroom trends would be helpful.