In the Granite State News article of February 17, 2011, prosecutor Jeff Strelzin is quoted as saying that ” (he) has no issues with resources in this case. If something needs to get done, it gets done.” During that discussion with the Wolfeboro Police Commission, he also indicated that homicide investigations are given the highest priority because they are rare (author’s note: especially in rural New Hampshire).
Three years later, one has to wonder if the resources in this case continue to “get it done” or if the police now feel that there is nothing more they can do. Is the file on the Stacey Burns murder case still on top of someone’s desk or is it now stored in a file cabinet, out of sight but, one fervently hopes, not out of mind?
Here is an interesting sentence about decisions to prosecute a case from the abstract of Discussion Paper #611 out of Harvard Law School: “Any system which pays attention to conviction rates, as opposed to number of convictions, is liable to abuse.” Convictions rates lose much of their impact because prosecutors choose which cases they are going to prosecute. The ratio of number of trials to number of successful prosecutions is not a valid measure of a prosecutor’s competence since he/she may choose only cases which he/she will win.