You may not know how your car works, but you sure appreciate how it gets you from here to there. You may not know how your home’s furnace works, but it keeps you warm.
Likewise, you may have no idea what the Richmond County Solicitor-General’s office does – but take our word for it, it’s a crucial machine that helps your quality of life.
The solicitor-general is the head prosecutor for “all misdemeanor criminal offenses including DUI cases, traffic violations, theft cases, domestic violence, neighborhood disputes, and other non-traffic misdemeanor offenses occurring in Augusta-Richmond County,” as the county website explains.
“We are the court of the everyday person,” is how Solicitor-General Charles Evans puts it.
Here’s why: Evans figures most citizens will eventually come into contact with his office, as a witness, victim or offender in a particular case, especially for traffic violations.
Those odds improve as you consider just how many cases the office processes: Evans estimates his office opened 25,000 cases last year and closed 21,000.
Moreover, the 12 prosecutors assigned to the office, including Evans, deal with cases from 10 different law enforcement agencies – including such things as fishing violations and even poaching.
Since being assigned to take over in May 2010, Evans has vastly improved the flow of all those cases. Intake of traffic cases has been greatly expedited, allowing for those who’ve been ticketed to dispose of their cases much more quickly and conveniently online.
In addition, whereas the office used to nominally assign up to 400 cases a month for trial – they’d never get to all those with just two courtrooms and judges – Evans now has a team that screens cases and weeds out those that seem likely to be resolved before trial. Now, only 30 to 40 cases are put on the trial calendar.
Evans also has given his prosecutors more discretion to divert minor offenders to a pretrial intervention program that allows them to avoid prosecution and the stigma of a criminal record if they follow certain probation-like guidelines.
Despite all this, when asked what he’s proudest of in his tenure, Evans doesn’t talk about his accomplishments – rather, about how proud he is of the young guns in his office who love the legal profession and embrace the chance to help the community be safer and more civil.
Evans also takes pride in treating people with respect and helping match employee skills with certain office tasks.
And when you ask about the solicitor-general’s office elsewhere in the local criminal justice system, all you hear is how good Charles Evans has been for it.
Not only is Evans a good administrator, but he has a perfect background for a solicitor-general. He’s had his own law practice, and been an assistant district attorney and a state probation officer. He even was a contract solicitor for Harlem, Waynesboro and Columbia County Probate Court.
Charles Evans has this car humming. There’s no need to rebuild the engine. He gave it a tune-up long ago.
On Tuesday, we urge you to elect and retain Charles Evans as solicitor-general for Richmond County.