In my last Report, I introduced some of the people who work here in the Paulding District Attorney’s office’s Investigations Unit and this month I will continue introductions, this time focusing on some of the other non-lawyers: our Administrative Assistants.
As I said in my last two Reports, it is likely that those not familiar with the inner- workings of the District Attorney’s office might find it surprising to learn that we have so many of these highly qualified Administrative Assistants (“Admins”).
We have a total of nine Admins in the District Attorney’s office. While there have been men in the position, all who are currently employed here are women. Most have either a bachelor’s degree or have completed the Paralegal program at Kennesaw State University or a similar course of study to prepare for the position. Five are qualified to access the Georgia Crime Information Center. Admins in our office oversee and coördinate the effective and efficient management of all cases from the time we receive and open the case until the time the case is closed and archived. Attention to detail, organization, communication and the ability to multi-task is paramount for success in this position. This office could not run effectively without our Admins.
Each employee has his or her role: our investigators check for accuracy in the files as they are received, our Assistant District Attorneys draft charging documents and go to court to try cases, and our Victim-Witness Advocates serve as our contact with those directly affected by crime. But our Admins have to be familiar with each of the other functions in the office to effectively do their jobs.
One Administrative Assistant serves as the Operations Manager for the office, keeping records of employees’ hours worked, time off, sick time taken and accumulated, and the appropriate ordering of supplies and coördinating off time in all the areas. The Operations Manager also keeps track of the Paulding County portion of the budget (about 75% of our funding is from Paulding County) and helps me and the Paulding County Finance Director to put together the budget package for the next fiscal year. In the Paulding Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office, the Operations Manager is one of two Admins who are state employees.
Two Admins work the front desk, and handle telephone calls to other staff members, as well as handling visits to the office by the general public, private attorneys, judges, law enforcement officers (LEOs), and victims and witnesses. When files are sent up from the Magistrate Clerk’s office, the Admins at the front desk create files and prepare them to be sent to the Investigators. Obviously each must know the function of the Investigators and Victim-Witness Advocates and Assistant District Attorneys so that they can properly direct the visitors, callers and LEOs to the proper desk or office. And, of course, there are the calls that should be referred to the Clerk, Superior Court or a judge’s office or to the Paulding County Sheriff's Office, so the front desk Admins must basically know it all.
One Administrative Assistant is dedicated solely to two Assistant District Attorneys: our Chief Assistant District Attorney who handles all the Haralson-Paulding Joint Drug Task Force prosecutions and civil forfeitures that stem from drug cases made by the Task Force; this Administrative Assistant also assists the Chief Assistant with extraditions, handles Open Records Requests, and oversees all Record Restriction Requests. In addition, she handles administrative duties for the Senior Assistant District Attorney who is assigned to handle appeals and the Drug Court. Filing appeals’ briefs with the Georgia Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Georgia, and handling the drug trafficking cases, extraditions, Opens Records and forfeitures are specialized areas; this Administrative Assistant has been in her position since January 1, 2011, when I first took office.
The other five Admins are assigned to the Assistant District Attorneys to facilitate the proper retention of files, the processing and preparation of charging documents (indictments and accusations); communicating with the Clerk, Superior Court, the other offices within the courthouse, as well as the other law enforcement agencies in the county; the proper closing of files (removing appropriate notes and certain records which are required to be destroyed); and generally assisting the Assistant District Attorney to whom she is assigned when he or she is in court for any reason.
It would be unfair to refer to these Admins as “secretaries” because they are so much more – they are truly Administrative Assistants, on whom we all rely. Of course, they must also have secretarial skills in order to do all that is required of them, in the same way that a doctor must know generally about anatomy to do his or her job as a surgeon – but knowledge of anatomy is also useful to a homicide Investigator (I speak from personal experience) – but you wouldn't want a homicide detective to operate if your appendix goes south, right?
I am very proud of the Admins in this office. They work hard to support the Assistant District Attorneys in the prosecution of criminals and do so under sometimes very trying circumstances. While they have the less-glamorous jobs, each does her job with great care and to great effect. We will celebrate with them the last week in April on Administrative Assistants’ Day (April 26th).
I’m looking out my office window (always keeping an eye peeled for villagers with torches and pitchforks!) at people wearing ever-more scanty warm-weather clothing – it’s Holy Week and we never know what to expect when we go outside in the morning, weather-wise; last week it was tornadoes and thunderstorms, which we enjoyed while sitting on the concrete steps in the basement of the Courthouse. But now we look forward to a fine Spring!
Your support of this office and our hard-working staff members means a great deal to all of us. Thank you, and have a great and safe Spring. By the way, pollen is sticky, so use soap and water to get it off the porch and the cars!