Ask a Dispatcher
Q. Recently I have attended two hearings for my friend who has been charged with a DUI. There was also another person scheduled to appear at the same hearing times that failed to appear on both occasions. My friend had taken the initiative to enroll in the required JASAP program, paid all fines in a timely manner and, appeared in court as ordered. The other person had a $1000 bench warrant issued at the hearing for fta, but subsequently was given a quash warrant hearing. I wonder if this is due to "narcing" on other offenders. I really don't understand why the person that was fta is given every opportunity repeatedly, and the person that showed up had the book thrown at them. Makes me wonder what the judicial system is up to. Please advise and thank you.
Dear Juneau Resident,
What you are seeing is judicial discretion and judges have a lot of authority. As a theme, JPD officers notice judges treating those who cooperate and are proactive, like your friend, better than those dragged kicking and screaming into accountability.
As far as someone getting a break for acting as an informant, the prosecutor is the only one who can make that deal and bring it to the court. It is possible but not likely you saw the results of informing. Not many people on the hook for DUI have information and, more importantly, can produce evidence that is worth enough to JPD for officers to involve a prosecutor and ask the prosecutor for a deal for the person.
JPD often hears rumors that someone is saying a person got arrested for DUI and just gave a list of names of people who use drugs, have child porn, hit a spouse... and got a deal just from that and on that very night. That story or one like is just a story because names and accusations don't mean anything without evidence. Generally the informer would have to do something like buy drugs, get recordings, produce pictures, basically do real and productive work over a period of weeks or months under search warrants to get a deal for themselves and convince JPD and the prosecutor that a bigger fish is being caught and a deal is warranted.
It is more likely that the failure to appear person had a personal plea like family emergency, transportation disaster, honest failure to remember the court date and the judge gave the person the benefit of any doubt. You may never know what reason for not appearing was provided, possibly by the person's attorney.
If your friend feels badly treated or inconsistently treated, and you did not give the ultimate consequences for the fail to appear person, your friend could ask his or her attorney to complain to the judge's boss. Your friend could also make the complaint personally after calling the court and finding out what judge supervises that judge. Everyone has a boss.