Jamie Dykes: Dedication crucial to court system's success

Posted

Reflecting on 2020, I would like to share some of the Office of the State’s Attorney for Wicomico County’s accomplishments and publicly renew our commitment to the core values of fairness, accountability and justice.

We began last year strong, with convictions in cases that collectively shocked the conscience of our community.

Few cases were as tragic than the murder of Erica Gould. Erica’s husband, Jameal Gould was convicted of first-degree murder for the senseless murder of his wife in front of their three small children.

Thanks to the dedicated work of the Salisbury Police Department and our prosecutors, Jameal Gould was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, plus 85 years.

Among other notable cases this year, Alan Mitchell was convicted for engaging in criminal sexual activity with minors while employed as a guidance counselor at James M. Bennett High School. Jerome Jackson was convicted and sentenced for his racially motivated graffiti that he placed around the Salisbury University campus.

While these prosecutions are just a small sample of the work we do every day, they demonstrate the dedicated, complex and challenging work our prosecutors and staff undertake daily in the pursuit of holding offenders accountable and making our community safer.

In early 2020, our criminal justice system faced unprecedented challenges unrelated to Covid.

In those challenges we found opportunities that helped pave the way for systemic, sustainable and continuous improvement of our criminal justice system.

We created the first of its kind, a Prosecution Integrity Unit that is ensuring integrity at every stage in the process. This vision and commitment reflect our strongly held belief that all members of our community should be safe and, at the same time, have great confidence in our criminal justice system.

Of course, 2020 was full of challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Those challenges however, did not interfere with several notable accomplishments.

We were proud to develop and sponsor our inaugural law school summer camp that afforded young people an up close and personal, week-long experience in many aspects of our criminal justice system.

Our prosecutors and staff were trained in topic areas too many to count, but included implicit bias, emotional trauma, human trafficking and substance abuse disorders. 

While this year presented unique and interesting challenges, I am incredibly proud of not only the results we achieved but also the manner in which we accomplished them.  In spite of the challenges, our team of prosecutors and support staff remain more committed than ever to our community and to our mission, to providing the highest quality public service that results in you and your family’s safety.

Jamie Dykes is the State’s Attorney for Wicomico County.