Pubdate: Tue, 07 Mar 2006
Source: Daily Iowan, The (IA Edu)
Section: Metro
Copyright: 2006 The Daily Iowan
Author: Mason Kerns


As the June 6 Johnson County primary elections approach, the race to 
succeed retiring County Attorney J. Patrick White has two Democratic 
candidates pitted against each other.

Monday marked the first day for prospective county officials to file 
affidavits of candidacy in the Democratic and Republican primaries, 
which will determine who will vie for seats in the November general 
election. Because no Republican is expected to run for county 
attorney, the Democratic primary will likely decide who will become 
the county's top prosecutor.

In a race for the Democratic nod that pits a county veteran against a 
youthful upstart, Assistant Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness will 
face off against Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks. Lyness 
has thus far emphasized her experience as a 15-year criminal and 
civil lawyer for the county, while the 31-year-old Maybanks has 
stressed his energy and political activism.

Lyness wants to increase the efficiency of the office by changing the 
way certain crimes are prosecuted. She said Monday she would seek to 
assign assistant attorneys to prosecute all crimes committed by a 
particular defendant, rather than splitting cases up by type.

"Right now, a person could have a domestic abuse, a drug charge, and 
an OWI, and we maybe don't have the same prosecutor," she said. "To 
coordinate, that would help a lot."

Despite their age differences, the platforms of Lyness and Maybanks 
center on several similar issues. Both said they'll focus on 
prosecuting victim-based crimes, such as domestic and sexual abuse 
and crimes against children and dependent adults, which they agree 
require "special attention."

Both also want to clear up clutter in the courts and the overflowing 
Johnson County Jail. Lyness proposes a court devoted solely to drug 
offenses and the release of non-dangerous offenders from custody.

Maybanks wants to establish a program to divert cases involving 
alcohol and low-level drug offenses from the courts. If community 
service and treatment requirements are met, charges would be erased 
from an offender's record after six arrest-free months - a plan he 
feels UI students would receive warmly.

"My policies would lessen the number of students who leave school 
with these things on their record and would give them an opportunity 
to invest in the community by earning off criminal offenses," said 
Maybanks, who, as a minor, was cited twice for possessing alcohol illegally.

Lyness said her experience with various department heads and the 
Board of Supervisors, as well as her work in civil law, give her an 
essential advantage over Maybanks, who lacks significant noncriminal 
litigation experience.

"Civil issues are a large part of the county attorney's job," Lyness 
said. "And I think my experience there really shines."
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