At a time in the not-so-distant past, jury trials appeared very infrequently in Floyd County Circuit Court.
As the cliché goes, “that was then, this is now”
The court docket this week this week has two — that’s right, two — jury trials on the schedule: Mark Edward Minnix of Copper Hill faces a jury of his peers Monday on charges of conspiring to distribute marijuana, possession of the drug with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possessing a firearm with marijuana.
James Earl Potts of Floyd goes before a jury on misdemeanor charges of refusing a blood test, misdemeanor driving under the influence and breaking the speed limit. Such cases seldom reach the Circuit Court unless the defendant doesn’t like the judges actions in a lower court and appeals.
Unless one of the defendants changes its mind at the last minute, or something else comes up to delay or continue the cases, possible jurors will pack the courtroom of the Floyd County Courtroom first thing Monday morning and again on Tuesday.
So much for quiet life here the rural areas.
Recently, Floyd County Sheriff Brain Craig found that a glitch in record keeping from the Commonwealth of Virginia created an inaccurate report of crime and clearance rates by law enforcement. It appeared that Floyd had an abnormally low rate of clearance of active crimes, which became an issue in the last race for Floyd County Sheriff.
As humorist Mark Twain once wrote, there are three kinds of lies: “Lies, damn lies…and statistics.”
In both the primary and general elections in 2015, opponents claimed Floyd County was not clearing cases and getting convictions. In fact, the county had a strong record of investigating crimes, obtaining charges and sending those who violate the law to jail. Instead of a rate of just 15 percent, as claimed, the clearance rate is more than 60 percent.
Anyone who spends time in the courtrooms of Floyd County knows that. The odds say that those guilty of crimes face convictions and serious jail time.
While two days of jury trials on two separate cases is an extreme example this week, a number of high-profiles cases have sent people to prison for long sentences in cases that include child pornography, sexual abuse of children, kidnapping and assault, murder, grand larceny and more.
The Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry currently lists 33 offenders who live in the county. They live in and around Floyd or in the Check, Indian Valley or Willis areas. Others who committed such crimes in Floyd County may now live outside the county and listed in the registries there.
The registries list on where a person lives to let residents know who, among them, might be a danger to others. Want to know if a convicted sexual offender lives near you? Check the database.
Is 32 a lot? In Floyd County with 15,651 residents, that is one convicted sex offender for every 474 residents. Montgomery County, with 97,653 residents has 114 in its sex offender registry. That one in every 856 residents. Either Montgomery County has fewer sex offenders or maybe Floyd County law enforcement is doing a better job of catching and convicting them.
The trend will continue as 2017 winds to a close and we head into 2018.