Bay County - 14th Judicial Circuit State attorney Glenn Hess is shaking up his office.He's changing the prosecutor assignments in all of his offices in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson and Washington Counties. He's doing this is coincide with the arrival of new circuit judges by the first of the year.
"Just like a football coach changes players and uses them where he can best exploit the game plan, we've done the same thing," Hess said.
He said he wants more experienced lawyers to work with the new judges.
"There's an old saying. A good lawyer knows the law, but a great lawyer knows the judge. Every judge has things that are important to him, and you need to understand what's important to that judge," Hess said.
Hess claims he's turned around the conviction rate in the circuit since taking office two years ago, and he says he's done this in the face of state budget cuts totaling 13%. Those cuts played a large role in this realignment. Hess had to reduce the number of lawyers in each division.
"When you have limited resources you have to allocate them wisely, and some things you may have liked to have done, you won't be able to do. That's just the economics of it," Hess said.
The decrease also means each lawyer will have to handle more cases. To make them more successful, Hess implemented a new training program that's helped improve prosecutors' case presentation with limited resources.
Hess said he'd like to see the conviction rate get back around 93%.