EnEarl announces re-election bid | RecordCourier.com
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EnEarl announces re-election bid

by Merrie Leininger

East Fork Justice Jim EnEarl will be asking voters to keep him on the bench this November.

EnEarl, who previously was in law enforcement in Orange County, Calif., and Douglas County, was elected to his first term of justice 5-1/2 years ago and said since then, the court has made those convicted of crimes more accountable.

“I want to continue doing the job I started. I think I brought accountability back to the court. I’ve made those defendants convicted of a crime accountable to the community with strict enforcement and collection of fines. I think it’s been successful. But there’s room for improvement,” he said.

EnEarl, 54 is married to Douglas County Public Administrator and Public Guardian Lynn EnEarl, and they have two daughters, Lisa Apple, 20, and Christina Pulsipher, 20, who are students at Western Nevada Community College. EnEarl moved from Orange County in 1977 and now lives in the Johnson Lane area.

He said one big improvement in the East Fork Justice Court is consistent collection of fines levied.

“The fines for each crime have remained stagnant, they haven’t gone up, but fines collected have gone up from $350,000 or $400,000 to around $800,000. Some of it goes to the state, to the county and some goes to the administrative assessment fund, but we are very persistent. The staff has been excellent in working with me to bring about fine collection,” EnEarl said.

The way he does that, he said, is rejecting payment plans, which other Nevada courts allow. When convicted persons are given a fine in court, they are also given a court date to appear if they cannot pay the fine on the appointed date. If they don’t pay and they don’t show up to explain why they didn’t pay, EnEarl issues a bench warrant within 15 minutes.

“There is pressure on people to take care of their obligations to the court,” he said. “In many incidences, their only punishment is a fine, but if it’s not enforced, there is no meaning to the court’s order.”

– Drug-related. EnEarl said he has also made great strides in slowing down drug- and alcohol-related offenses by sentencing people to in-patient treatment programs.

“A vast majority of spousal battery, DUI and crimes of petty property theft are drug-related offenses and that’s where the department of alternative sentencing comes into play,” EnEarl said. “They will spend some time in jail and then I will send them to the in-patient lock-up program. It has helped a lot of people who come into this court. A lot of people come up to me and thank me for doing what I did for them, because it afforded them the opportunity to change their lives. I’m literally told that on a weekly basis.”

EnEarl said he believes drug and alcohol abuse is the largest problem facing people -especially people in his court -today.

“The calendar is consumed with substance abuse issues. If you go through and poll the people, I bet 90 percent of them will relate their crime to some sort of substance abuse issue. If you take a poll in the jail, I bet you’d come away with the same percentage,” he said.

EnEarl said he is happy with the work of probation officer Doug Swalm and all of the clerks he works with.

“I’m very pleased with the staff effort. They work very hard here. I couldn’t ask for a better crew,” he said.

EnEarl said, if he is elected again, he would like to work with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office to implement a paperless ticket process in Douglas County.

He has studied the issue as part of a state justice committee and is convinced it would improve communication between departments.

Deputies in the field punch arrest information into a hand-held computer and that system is linked into the sheriff’s office and DA’s computer system.

EnEarl said he believes that would “improve what we’ve started – to make it even more efficient than it is now.”