Baldwin files for re-election as county attorney

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
After signaling for some time his intention to run for reelection,

Marion County Attorney Dan Baldwin formally filed by petition late

last week.



He will face challenger Susan Robson, Marion, in the Aug. 2 Republican

primary. No candidates have filed as Democrats.



Baldwin said the experience he acquired in his first term prompted him

to file for a second one.



?I have learned a lot over the past three and a half years,? he said.

?I have a fine staff in place that understands the systems. I?m

looking to capitalize on the opportunity of using the experience I

have gained over this time to better serve the county the next four

years.?



Baldwin received his undergraduate degree from Friends University in

1990 and his law degree from the University of Tulsa in 1993.



That same year, he moved to Marion to join what was known as the

Wheeler & Wheeler law office. He continues to hold an associate?s

position at the David W. Wheeler law office.



Baldwin was elected Marion County attorney in 1996. The previous two

years, the office was managed on an interim basis by area attorneys.



?Immediately, I recognized what the job was going to take,? he said.

?It?s taken some time and some effort because of the way budgets work,

and those kind of things. But I have committed myself to making this a

professional office.?



Baldwin said the caseload has increased during his time in office, not

so much because crime has increased in Marion County but because of

the professional work of county law enforcement officers.



Baldwin said his office has been involved in 200 or more adult

criminal cases?including felony and misdemeanor?in each of the

previous three years. He has averaged 93 juvenile cases a year over

the same period.



The number of traffic-related cases, including infractions, DUIs and

Kansas Parks and Wildlife tickers, has decreased each of the three

years he has been in office, from 1,407 in 1997 to 782 in 1999.



?The increased caseload is manageable because I have used a variety of

prosecution tools to address specific types of cases,? he said. ?For

example, I focus primarily on providing restitution to merchants in my

prosecution of bad checks.?



He also feels good about the diversion program he has developed.



?I use a diversion program to remove certain qualified cases from

traditional prosecution,? he said.



He says diversion has been used on only 9 percent of the adult

criminal cases that have come to his office, and that those cases have

involved offenders of various ages and economic levels.



?I believe it is unrealistic to expect that every case should be taken

forward as an aggressive prosecution,? Baldwin said. ?It takes fair

judgment to realize that some crimes are worse than others, and it

takes contact and discernment to understand which criminal defendant

needs to be treated aggressively and which does not.?



Baldwin said his approach to case management has enabled him to

initiate ?outreach? work, such as the recent formation of the Marion

County Abuse Team composed of representatives from area law

enforcement and social services.



?That is very pleasing to me,? he said.



He said his frequent communication with county law enforcement

agencies and school administrators, counselors and teachers has also

given him a good grasp of school issues such as truancy and offenses.



?I think the job is really about balance,? Baldwin said. ?You have

budgetary constraints and the constraints of the judicial system. I

think I?ve really struck a balanced between all those things and I

think I have a smooth operation of things.?



Baldwin and his wife, Laura, have three sons: Isaac, 5, Jacob, 3, and

Nathan, 1. They live in the old Evangelical United Brethren church

building, which t

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