Philadelphia district attorney Seth Williams moved quickly after he took office earlier this year to enact promised changes, and one change starts right at the beginning.READ MORE: Girl Attacked By Man On Way To School In Atlantic County, Police Say
KYW’s Tony Hanson reports every criminal prosecution starts in room B-7 in the basement of the Criminal Justice Center, the DA’s ‘charging unit’, where attorneys review evidence and approve charges. Well, DA Seth Williams says this unit had been a rubber stamp for charges proposed by police, defendants were overcharged, and most felony cases were dismissed at the preliminary hearing.READ MORE: Samir Jefferson's Mother Speaks Out After 14-Year-Old Shot 18 Times, Killed In Feltonville
But Williams has tripled the staff to 15 seasoned attorneys working 24/7. And unit chief Jodi Lobel says there are new protocols:
“We ask ourselves very frequently ‘is this enough to charge the case?’ but we also have to think ‘is this enough try the case?’ ”MORE NEWS: Family, Friends Hold Candlelight Vigil For Slain Temple University Student Samuel Collington
So now the DA requires more investigation up front. Lobel says many cases are sent back to police for more investigation and, she says, it makes for stronger cases, more leverage in pre-trial negotiations, and ultimately, according to Williams, the benefit is justice.