County commission approves sending prosecutors to observe Supreme Court

Friday, November 30, 2012

Cape Girardeau County commissioners on Thursday approved sending four members of the prosecuting attorney's office to experience what former head prosecutor Morley Swingle called "a once in a lifetime opportunity" for his former staff.

Assistant prosecutors Jack and Julia Koester, along with Julie Hunter and interim prosecuting attorney Angel Woodruff, will travel to Washington, D.C., in January for a local case that has been accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court. Jack Koester will be presenting and arguing the case, Missouri v. McNeely, in which the court will decide whether law enforcement must obtain a warrant before a blood test can be performed on an unwilling person suspected of drunken driving. The case originated in Cape Girardeau County in 2010 when a blood sample was taken from a Jackson man suspected of driving drunk.

Koester practiced for the Supreme Court case during a mock trial at the University of Missouri-Columbia earlier this month.

Woodruff approached commissioners Thursday with the request for travel expenses.

"We don't get to see this sort of thing, and it's a great learning opportunity," she said of the case.

Swingle wrote in a memo to Woodruff that the assistant prosecutors could be answering the questions of justices in their own minds as Koester argues the case.

Woodruff said the prosecuting attorney's office budget covered expenses, and she estimated the cost at around $400 per airline ticket, plus the cost of hotel rooms, meals and mileage.

Assistant prosecuting attorney Frank Miller will stay in Cape Girardeau to cover the office during the trip since he has witnessed Supreme Court cases before.

Other business

* Commissioners approved a plan for vision, dental, life and long-term disability insurance through the carrier Guardian, which was the lowest of four bidders. No increases will be seen in 2013 for premiums on group dental and vision premiums with that carrier, according to County Clerk Kara Clark Summers, and the rates for life and long-term disability were reduced.

* Appointed Larry Dowdy to represent the county at an annual meeting of the Little River Drainage District.

* Approved closing county offices on Christmas Eve.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

1 Barton Square, Jackson, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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