Article Comment 

Starkville Municipal Court case load drops in 2013

 

Carl Smith

 

Starkville Municipal Court recorded a significant decrease in the number of misdemeanor, felony and traffic citation cases handled by the system in 2013. 

 

Officials Tuesday presented an annual report Tuesday to aldermen that showed an almost 3,000-case decrease in the number of new cases handled by the court from 2012. In 2010, the court handled almost 10,000 cases, and that number jumped to 12,746 in 2011 and 13,703 - the highest mark set across a 14-year period - in 2012. 

 

The court system eclipsed the 10,000-case mark last year by only eight cases. 

 

Felonies, including theft, drug-related crimes and assaults, decreased from 241 in 2012 to 159 in 2013, the lowest mark recorded across a six-year window. City court averaged about 250 felony cases between 2008-2012, with the highest number, 281, recorded in 2009. 

 

Forty-one of Starkville's 159 felony cases were theft, burglary or robbery related, while 38 cases were drug related. Combined, those totals account for about 50 percent of the felony cases handled by the court. 

 

Drug-related cases were the city's second-highest number of misdemeanors, totaling 216. Of Starkville's 1,150 misdemeanor cases, violation of probation (373) accounted for the majority, while alcohol-related crimes (206; the total does not include DUIs) came in third. Cases involving disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace were the only other category to break the century mark (125). Starkville Municipal Court also reported 85 misdemeanor theft cases and 67 assault or domestic violence cases. 

 

The 1,150 misdemeanor total is the lowest recorded by the city since 2008. Last year, the court system handled 1,836 of those cases. 

 

DUI numbers also hit a six-year low in 2013, as the court reported handling 350 cases, compared to 2012's 470 total. According to the report, 10 of those cases were felony DUI cases. 2013 marks the first year since 2008 that the court handled fewer than 400 of those cases.  

 

Traffic citations failed to eclipse the 10,000-case mark last year, the second such time since 2008. Last year's total of 8,743 represents a 2,718-citation drop from 2012's total. Of 2013's cases, no insurance (2,246), no seat belt or child restraint (1,982) and speeding (1,186) constituted the majority of citations issued by Starkville Police Department. Combined, insurance and seat belt tickets accounted for 49 percent of traffic cases handled by the courts, while DUIs represented 4 percent. 

 

In other business, aldermen: 

 

Authorized the city engineer to develop a list of capital improvement projects by May 6 for the upcoming fiscal year; 

 

Began a process that, if approved at a later meeting, would allow Columbus-based KiOR to temporarily discharge run-off in the city's treatment facility for 10 cents per gallon plus consulting and testing fees; 

 

Scheduled a public hearing for The Mill project's tax increment financing plan at 5:30 p.m. March 18; 

 

Approved a resolution honoring the life of former Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba; 

 

And authorized fire, police and sanitation department hires.  

 

 

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch

 

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