Of the thousands of cases referred every year to regional prosecutors, which get pursued and which get ignored? It’s a standard question that many crime journalists fresh on the beat start with. Veteran editors often tell cub reporters to request from an office a list of all referred, as well as prosecuted, cases categorized by crime type.
This way, reporters can see if any types of crimes are being ignored—especially tough-to-prosecute offenses that might mar an office’s statistics.
In response to a public records request for such information, the San Diego City Attorney’s office denied tracking cases referred to its office by “crime type.” Instead, it pointed to its latest annual report, which says that in 2013, the office filed about 15,080 criminal complaints after reviewing about 19,770 referred cases.
“I am told that the information in the annual report is [the] closest we have to what you are asking for and should give you a good answer to your basic question,” spokesperson Michael Giorgino told CityBeat in an email.
However, the report doesn’t answer the question at all. Of the roughly one in four criminal cases that the City Attorney's office declined to file, it doesn’t show the type of crime. It could be that the office sidesteps prosecuting certain types of offenses, but according to Giorgino, not even they know the answer to that question.
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