ROGERS (KFSM) – Benton County Prosecutor-elect Nathan Smith has decided not to commission Rogers City Attorney Ben Lipscomb as deputy prosecuting attorney in 2015, according to a letter from Smith.
“It has been the long-standing policy of the Benton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to commission elected city attorneys. . . to prosecute state misdemeanor offenses in their cities. I feel I must depart from this policy in Mr. Lipscomb’s case because of his decision to refuse to engage in plea bargaining in any of the cases he prosecutes,” the letter states.
Lipscomb ended plea bargaining on Dec. 9 due to “politically motivated budget cuts and staff reductions.”
Smith said in his letter that refusing plea bargains will force people to plea to the court or go to trial, and that policy would result in a “chaotic court docket” and a “large number of police officer needlessly waiting in court for potential trials rather than serving the community.”
He also said it would result in the loss of many cases that should end in convictions due to mistakes and oversights inherent in trying numerous cases all at once without appropriate preparation.
The result of this decision from Smith means that Lipscomb will remain the elected Rogers City Attorney, but he won’t have the authority to prosecute state offenses in Rogers District Court, according to the letter.
Instead, Smith said he will appoint Bonnie Bridges and Chris Griffin in 2015 as special prosecutors to handle cases in the Rogers District Court, the letter states.