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Archive for Friday, September 2, 2005

Branson supports ordinance sending pot offenders to municipal court

September 2, 2005

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First-time drug offenders should be channeled through a treatment program rather than the district court system, Douglas County's top prosecutor said Thursday.

Dist. Atty. Charles Branson discussed that option during an online chat Thursday afternoon on the Journal-World's Web site, ljworld.com.

Branson talked about treatment in response to a question from a reader about what the prosecutor's office could do with non-violent offenders such as minors possessing marijuana.

"It is my philosophy that non-violent, first-time drug offenders should be steered toward treatment programs. This can be accomplished by diversion agreements or other similar processes," Branson wrote.

"Another solution is that these cases can be directed to municipal court where they can be expedited for the benefit of the state or city and the defendant. Protracted litigation in any of these cases serves no one."

Branson also was asked what would happen if the city adopted a marijuana ordinance that would send cases to municipal court instead of district court.

"I think it has the potential of being more efficient ... if the police can write a citation for the offense instead of writing an investigative report, that saves time. If the matter can be heard in one court appearance without bringing in a jury that saves time and money," Branson responded.

Branson also discussed several other topics, including recent charges he filed against former Kansas University basketball player J.R. Giddens for the athlete's role in a May 19 brawl at the Moon Bar.

To see the full transcript of Branson's chat go to www.ljworld.com.

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