GALVESTON — The incoming judge for the 212th District Court will work as a consultant for the county for the next several months to analyze “existing operating processes and policies” in the county’s criminal justice system and to recommend ways to cut costs and improve efficiency.
Patricia Grady, who won the Republican nomination for the judicial seat in a runoff election in May and will run unopposed in November, will receive $2,100 a week for her consulting services for the county, according to a memorandum of understanding signed last week.
The terms of the agreement run from July 8 to Sept. 30, but can be ended early, according to the memorandum.
Grady declined to comment, citing a confidentiality agreement in the memorandum of understanding.
Grady will follow up on work done by an independent firm hired by the county to examine every aspect of the local criminal justice system, including arrests, incarceration at the county jail and criminal prosecution, County Judge Mark Henry said.
Griffith, Moseley, Johnson and Associates were brought on as consultants to evaluate the criminal justice system last October and were paid about $10,000 a month, Henry said.
The firm was paid about $70,000 and issued a 67-page preliminary report to county commissioners in April, Henry said.
The county is looking into methods to save money and increase efficiency in the criminal justice system, Henry said.
According to the memorandum of understanding, Grady was qualified to build on the analysis in the preliminary report because of her experience as a policy and legal adviser with the county.
Grady’s campaign for the 212th Judicial District Court is also cited as a factor in the memorandum, as it allowed her to become “acquainted with current issues concerning the operation of the Galveston County Justice System.”
She will be tasked with reviewing every aspect of the county’s criminal justice system and will identify potential cost savings as well as ways to increase the collection of fines and fees.
The preliminary report issued by Griffith, Moseley, Johnson and Associates compares Galveston County to four other counties, including Brazoria and Montgomery counties.
John Johnson, vice president and general counsel at the firm, said the report was prepared through interviews with judges, local police and county law enforcement officials, prosecutors and court coordinators. The report examines nearly every aspect of the local criminal justice system.
The firm also looked at jail population trends, case processing and operations at the county jail, district court, county court and specialty courts, as well as other local and statewide data, Johnson said.
The report includes 24 recommendations to improve efficiency in the county’s criminal justice system on topics ranging from the different computer systems used by law enforcement agencies and courts to delays in evidence testing.
Among other things, the report examines the pace at which cases are disposed, inmate medical services and specialty courts, such as the drug court and veteran’s court.
Johnson said operating a criminal justice system typically consumes the largest part of a county’s yearly budget, and increasing efficiency in that system can save taxpayers millions of dollars.
He credited Galveston County Commissioners for bringing on consultants to analyze efficiency and ways to cut costs in the criminal justice system.