I feel obligated to comment on the op-ed by Thomas Weitzel published on Jan. 5. Mr. Weitzel clearly does not understand the role of the state’s attorney’s office. They are not there merely to rubber stamp whatever the police tell them.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that “law enforcement officers have the obligation to convict the guilty and to make sure they do not convict the innocent. They must be dedicated to making the criminal trial a procedure for the ascertainment of the true facts surrounding the commission of the crime.” (United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218, 256 (1967)). In other words, protecting the innocent is just as important as convicting the guilty.

SCOTUS has also said, “The (prosecutor) is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. ” (Berger v. United States, 295 US 78, 88-89 (1935)).

To achieve these aims and to honor his obligations under the law, the state’s attorney must examine any evidence presented by the police, must determine the accuracy and admissibility of that evidence and must assure that it was obtained legally and properly. 

It is not the job of the police to judge the evidence they have gathered. The state’s attorney’s office is far more qualified to do that, both by knowledge and education. Very few police officers have a law degree. Everyone in the state’s attorney office does. Allowing police officers to set bond and determine who should be brought to trial is a huge step on the road to a dictatorship.

Weitzel complains that his detectives can’t make a case in the 48-72 they are allowed to hold a suspect. There is a reason for that and it is embodied in the Constitution of the United States.

The Sixth Amendment tells us, “The accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial,” while the 14th amendment says, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” 

Keeping an accused in custody absent clear charges and absent a clear need for public safety violates both those amendments.

Weitzel claims felony prosecution requests are being rejected due to political ideology but offers zero examples or proof. His main issue seems to be that Kim Foxx is a Democrat and he is clearly something else.

George Hajek, North Riverside