Third District judges voted Wednesday to "keep an eye" on the number of cases that Salt Lake County prosecutors plea bargain in district court instead of circuit court to raise revenue for the county.
Three weeks ago, the judges sent a letter to Salt Lake County Attorney David Yocom warning him to "quit manipulating the judicial system" by instructing his prosecutors to take plea bargains to the district court. Usually, plea bargains to misdemeanors are accepted in circuit court and the revenues go to the state. By taking the cases to the county-run district court, Salt Lake prosecutors have been raising at least $20,000 a month for the county.Defending his views, Yocom said, "The state of Utah doesn't contribute one cent to the cost of apprehending and prosecuting criminals in Salt Lake County. It's appropriate to have the revenue from the criminal fines going to the governmental agency that is providing the services to protect the public."
Third District judges noted Wednesday that the numbers of cases taken to district court instead of circuit has decreased significantly since they issued their warning.
"I think he (Yocom) got the message," said one judge.
The judges decided not to act on the matter for now.