Leavenworth County Attorney candidate Deb Snider
July 23, 2008
Deb Snider is running in the Aug. 5 Republican primary for Leavenworth County Attorney, facing Todd Thompson.
This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.
Good morning. This is Joel Walsh, Leavenwoth County government reporter at The Tonganoxie Mirror, Basehor Sentinel, Lansing Current and Bonner Springs Chieftain. I'll be your moderator for this online chat. We expect to have Deb here any minute. We have some good questions for today's chat, but we're still taking more.
Debra "Deb" Snider
Good morning, Joel. I'm looking forward to our chat today.
Here's the first question for Deb.
What is your position on local prosecution of illegal immigrants?
(their incarceration will cost us more money)
Debra "Deb" Snider
Anyone who breaks the law is subject to prosecution for those crimes, including illegal immigrants. The very fact that they are here illegally is obviously a violation of our laws, but if they further violate our state laws, then they need to be prosecuted. As the County Attorney, I would certainly contact ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to see if the illegal immigrant would be subject to deportation prior to investing time, effort and money into the prosecution. I have been involved with several cases where ICE (formerly just INS) actually deported individuals who were only charged with misdemeanor crimes. So, if ICE wants to take them prior to prosecution, good. That saves us the time and money of prosecuting. If not, then we prosecute an illegal immigrant the same way we prosecute any offender. While I understand that it will cost money to incarcerate them, it would cost us the same amount of money to incarcerate any offender. The important issue is to get them off the streets so they are not committing more crimes.
Thank you for your response. I'd like to also remind readers that this chat can also be viewed on the Lawrence Journal-World Web site at www.ljworld.com.
And now a question concerning your previous work experience.
I have read that you are a defense attorney. Do you have any prosecution experience?
Debra "Deb" Snider
I'm proud to say that, yes, I do have prosecution experience! While I was still in law school, I was selected as one of only eight paid interns from the three area law schools (KU, Washburn and UMKC) for a position in the Johnson County District Attorney's Office. Under a special Supreme Court rule, I was allowed to work in that office for my final year of law school. I carried a full load of cases (predominantly domestic violence) while I was also carrying a full class load. As an intern, we had a supervisor who would advise, when necessary, about our various cases. I ran my case load just as any attorney in the District Attorney's office would. In fact, I was hungry for experience, so I frequently either assisted the Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) or worked their cases in the courtroom on my own when they were overbooked or when a previous court hearing would run so long that they couldn't get to their next hearing. While I was an intern, I handled a gamut of cases including such things as jury trials (yes, I won my first jury trial before I had even graduated from law school!), bench trials (trials to a judge only), preliminary hearings, plea hearings, sentencing hearings, probation/bond revocation hearings, involuntary commitment hearings, etc. We interns were a very busy group -- so much so that we frequently would have two or even three bench trials in the same day. Sometimes we were so busy that we would cover each other's cases when need be. Once I was actually reading the case file on the way to the courtroom because a fellow intern was still in trial with another trial scheduled in another courtroom, so I helped out and took her case on very short notice. It was a tremendous training ground for becoming a trial lawyer, and I'm very grateful that I had that opportunity to gain such valuable experience before even graduating from law school.
Thank you. Our next question comes from the Journal-World site. rrh (Anonymous) asks:
"Good morning, Ms. Snider. Why are you best qualified to be
Leavenworth County Attorney? What would you do differently if you
Debra "Deb" Snider
I believe that experience and good judgment are crucial aspects of a qualified County Attorney. I have experience on both sides of the aisle -- prosecution and defense -- which allows me to critically analyze a case from both perspectives so that I know the relative strengths and weaknesses of each case and I can craft my courtroom arguments and strategies accordingly. I believe that I also possess good judgment in making decisions relative to each individual case. So, I believe that I possess the requisite experience and good judgment to be effective as the County Attorney.
If I were elected, there are some things I would do differently. I have a three-part plan of action that I believe will help to improve the efficiency of prosecutions in this county. First, I believe that there needs to be faster charging of crimes in the county, which serves a two-fold purpose (1) to get the offenders off the streets faster and (2) to gather critical additional evidence, if need be, while the case is still relatively fresh. This will help law enforcement, as well, which is the second part of my plan. I want to work interactively and cooperatively with law enforcement so that we can be as efficient as possible. Prompt charging decisions will help law enforcement to gather additional information and evidence if needed, and provide them the critical prosecution support that they need to do their jobs well. I also plan to institute training sessions for police on such critical areas as how to testify, how to write complete and accurate reports, updates on the latest case law and statutory law so that the police are always current on these important issues. In short, I want to work effectively with law enforcement so that we are a team. Last, I want to carefully regulate plea agreements. Plea agreements are generally unpopular, but they are an important part of the criminal justice process. I believe that the important aspect about plea agreements is not to give away all the high level charges against an individual, just to get the low level charges. Obviously, this is a rather broad statement and needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but overall, there needs to be a more careful regulation of the plea agreement elements so that we accomplish multiple purposes, such as gaining a conviction on a defendant, building a criminal history on him/her, and gaining closure for victims and witnesses.
Thank you for that response.
And that is the final question for today's chat, but, Deb, if there is anything else you would like to say about yourself or your candidacy for Leavenworth County Attorney, please do so. I also want to thank you on behalf of our readers for joining us today and remind readers our next chat will be held today at 1 p.m. when we welcome Republican Beverly "Bev" Oroke, who is running for Leavenworth County Commissioner, District 3.
Debra "Deb" Snider
Joel -- Thank you for giving me this opportunity to answer these important questions today. I know we didn't get through very many questions and I'm sorry I didn't have a chance to answer more! However, for those of you who still have questions, you can reach me through my website at www.debsnider.com and click on the "contact" button. I'll be happy to send you a personalized response. For all the readers, please remember to vote in the primary electon on August 5th and make an informed choice. Thank you.