The criminal case against Sanctuary Hospice House should be handled by local officials instead of the state, Lee County Prosecuting Attorney James D. Moore said Wednesday.
Moore sent a written request asking state Attorney General Jim Hood to let him prosecute the case. Moore said the law allows him jurisdiction over the matter, and cited two code sections to prove it:
One says county attorneys have full responsibility for misdemeanors; the other says the powers of the attorney general don’t diminish the powers of local authorities.
A representative from Hood’s office did not immediately return a call for comment.
“It’s not a very common practice just out of a matter of deference to another prosecutor’s judgment,” Moore told the Daily Journal by phone. “But in this case, the reason I’m doing this is because it’s definitely within the scope of my office and I’m the local authority and people trust me.”
Moore said he’s received numerous calls from people concerned about the hospice house case and the lack of local involvement. They’re also worried about alleged misconduct from two state employees who helped investigate the case. Moore said his involvement would alleviate many of those concerns.
Hood is expected to prosecute the case in Lee County Circuit Court sometime within the next nine months. But if Moore gets his way, he’ll be in charge of that.
“If he turns it over, I’ll do my own independent investigation,” Moore said. “If a prosecutor looks at a case that’s brought to him and he doesn’t feel from the evidence that he could get a conviction, then a prosecutor can drop the case. But I don’t know – I don’t have the evidence.”
Moore hopes to have a response from Hood within the next few days.
“I’d like to make sure justice is done,” Moore said. “And I’d make sure it’d be done for all sides.”