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Columbus dismisses thousands of cases 'in the interest of community justice'

The Columbus City Attorney's Office dismissed more than 4,000 charges this summer they say due to COVID19.

The Columbus City Attorney's Office dismissed more than 4,000 charges this summer they say due to COVID19, but some of the charges that were dismissed include resisting arrest and theft.

A man was pulled over by a Franklin County Sheriff's deputy for going 62 in a 40. For more than two minutes the deputy ordered the man to get out of the car, yet the man did not listen.

According to the report, he "attempted to mule kick" the deputy and smacked the deputy's hands away.

The man was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing official business, but those charges were dropped at "the request of the prosecutor in the interest of justice notice of dismissal - COVID-19."

“We had to make some tough calls,” Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said.

That isn't the only case dismissed for that reason. Through public records requests, we found more than 4,000 cases between March and September were dismissed.

“The reality was the courthouse closed for 6-8 weeks. We had 4,000 cases that were backlogged on top of the cases that were already processed through the system,” Klein said.

Klein says his office set parameters for misdemeanor charges that would be considered for dismissal.

“We came up with a system where the lowest of low traffic offenders were the ones that we said we had to dismiss because we just could not get through all of those cases in 30 days,” he said.

CrimeTracker 10 found criminal cases that were dismissed too. 

Criminal trespass charges were dropped against a man who has a laundry list of charges in the past, including criminal damaging, resisting arrest, felony drug possession and OVI.

“We tried to look at some criminal history, we put in certain parameters,” Klein said.

Some drug possession cases and cases dating back to 2007 were also dismissed "in the interest of community justice."

Klein explains the cases were scheduled to be heard during the nine weeks when the court was closed. He says the dismissals only happened for a short period of time to allow the courts to catch up. 

Some cases that were initially filed more than a decade ago were also dismissed because they were schedule for a hearing at that time.

“Because this is not a practice going forward, people should know that they are going to be held accountable,” Klein said.

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