EASTON — In his run for Talbot County State’s Attorney, Joseph Coale promises to bring updated technology, increase courtroom efficiency and prosecute serious crimes related to the dope.
Coale is running as a Republican candidate for the office, seeking to fill a post held by incumbent Scott Patterson for more than 35 years.
Originally from the East Coast, Coale attended Washington College and Georgetown University Law School. He worked in civil litigation and served as a public defender in Montgomery County before returning to the Shore in the early 2000s.
Most of Coale’s experience is in criminal law: he worked in criminal defense for 11 years and in prosecution for 13 years. He served as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Carolina County from 2009 to 2016 and started with the Talbot County State’s Attorney’s Office in early 2020. He was appointed as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Talbot in January 2022.
When asked why he’s running for state’s attorney, Coale said prosecution is the best thing you can do with a law degree if you want to serve the public and the community.
“I care a lot about standing up for victims of crime, especially those who can’t defend themselves like vulnerable adults, especially children, victims of abuse, and it allows you to use your degree in right to put these predators, violent criminals, people who prey on society, in jail,” he said. “And that’s what I’ve dedicated most of my career to at this point, and that’s what I want to continue to do.”
Coale views the influx of fentanyl into the community as one of the most pressing issues facing the state’s attorney’s office and stressed his support for the Talbot County Drug Task Force, which is carrying out the search warrants and arrests drug dealers.
“We need to double down on that, make sure they are fully funded, cases are fully supported and prosecuted,” he said.
Coale stressed the importance of asset forfeiture – seizing money located on drug dealers during arrests – as she funds the county’s drug task force, ensuring they are fully equipped and saving taxpayers’ money.
The drug trade is also a major driver of crime in Talbot County, Coale said, explaining that a significant percentage of crime seen in the area is due to drug addiction. The way to tackle this problem is to “vigorously pursue the drug dealers”, as well as to get the dealers and the drugs out of the community, he said.
Educating county residents about the dangers of drug use is also something Coale considers important in reducing drug-related crime. He cited Talbot Goes Purple, a substance abuse prevention program run by the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office, as a great initiative for the county.
For people who commit crimes through drug use, Coale stressed the need for treatment facilities and options, both inside and outside the justice system. But drug dealers are another story.
“We have a drug court in our court system; I think it’s very appropriate for drug addicts,” he said. “I am against putting drug dealers in drug court, especially fentanyl pushers, but I am absolutely for putting drug addicts and drug users in drug court and their treatment.”
Coale wants to revamp county district court prosecutions according to a model he personally implemented while overseeing the Carolina County district court: having two prosecutors dedicated solely to the district court instead of the current system of rotation of the office’s six prosecutors.
Prosecutors would be responsible for covering specific policing jurisdictions, such as the county or one of the cities, and would work closely with officers in those communities. Each prosecutor would also handle half a case daily to better collaborate and improve efficiency.
“It also provides continuity in the sense that it provides accountability, because one prosecutor would have the case from start to finish and would be responsible for it from start to finish, and it wouldn’t be assigned to multiple prosecutors,” added Coale.
Coale hopes to address a concern he has consistently heard from local law enforcement: better coordination of police appearances in district court. Sometimes officers end up not being needed in court due to cases ending in pleas or adjournments.
To solve the problem, Coale proposed designating the witness coordinator to also coordinate police appearances, as well as setting up a digital message board updated in real time so that officers can see if they are needed at the court. court that day.
Coale also expressed a desire to implement a numerical filing system in county courts — something he would implement immediately if elected. The idea would save money in the long run based on storage and copying costs, which are “heavy” in district court, he said.
“I want to bring us into the 21st century and use software that’s been commonly used in major law firms and other state attorney offices for, I don’t know, a decade or two, so that prosecutors would have laptops and they would have every case at their fingertips,” Coale said. “They would have the evidence at their fingertips. They wouldn’t bother with paper files and obviously it’s a more efficient.
The digitized filing system would also create a collection of data, providing important statistics on the cases being prosecuted and how they are handled. Coale, who has described himself as data-driven, said he wants that data to be available to address public complaints about justice, fairness and disparities in outcomes.
The availability of this data would also increase transparency within the state’s attorney’s office, Coale said.
“I want this data to be public and I want to be transparent about what’s going on in the courts, so the public can know, they know and therefore can trust what’s going on in the criminal justice system,” he said. he declared. “Because in recent years there has been a lack of trust in the justice system, so I think the availability of this kind of data is a significant way to build trust.”
Coale wants her door open to anyone in the community who is worried about specific cases or just wants to start a conversation.
Coale said that, if elected, he expected his office to be tried more frequently, especially for the most serious cases in circuit court.
“When you make tough plea deals, like number of leads, big jail sentences, for example, the defense is more likely to go to trial because it’s a negotiation process, and if you don’t give not what the defense considers a good plea bargain, so they’re more likely to go to trial,” he said.
Coale would also institute a policy of presiding second in major felony trials – having another circuit court attorney provide support to the assigned attorney for a case.
The second attorney would take on certain responsibilities during the trial, such as directly questioning certain witnesses or reading legal research when objections were raised, he said.
“To judge a case of crime, in front of a jury especially, requires colossal work, colossal experience and a colossal amount of juggling with a hundred different questions: aligning exhibits, aligning your direct examinations, your cross-examinations. reviews, your opening statements, your closing statements,” he said. “It’s very difficult to do this on your own as a person, and I see it too often now.”
General elections will take place on November 8, with early voting from October 27 to November 3.
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