— As we march on to a new year, join us for a look back at the 10 most newsworthy stories of 2012, as voted on by the staff of the Muskogee Phoenix.
10. Courthouse security
Two laptops given to the Muskogee County’s District Attorney’s Office in 2012 were in the middle of a storm of controversy.
Muskogee County Sheriff Charles Pearson gave District Attorney Larry Moore’s office two laptops to cut down on paperwork and trips between the two offices. However, included on the laptops was software that could have — though no specific allegations have been lodged — allowed prosecutors to eavesdrop on what defense attorneys had believed to be private conversations with their clients.
As a result, a handful of cases were removed from trial schedules, and a case against a man accused of rape was dismissed as attorneys, judges and prosecutors awaited a conclusion to the allegations.
Moore said the fact that video and audio from courtrooms was being recorded was widely known information, and the laptops, which had the surveillance software removed, did not have DVR capability. Any video seen on those laptops, Moore said, had to be witnessed live.
Attorneys asked the Oklahoma Bar Association, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to look into the matter. None responded. However, the OSBI did initiate an investigation into the DA’s office at Moore’s request. That investigation is ongoing.
Hundreds of Muskogee citizens and area leaders shared their thoughts during a series of Action In Muskogee (AIM) meetings during 2012.
AIM was a community planning project organized by the Muskogee City-County Port Authority to “develop a community-inspired implementation plan with accountability to improve Muskogee.”
The effort is modeled after Oklahoma City’s MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects Plan) and Ardmore’s GAPS (Giving Ardmore a Plan for Success) programs.
After the five meetings were completed, consultants drafted a report on how to put into action nine initiatives AIM settled on. Those initiatives are:
• Educational excellence.
• Safe and secure community.
• Strong economy.
• Community pride.
• Clean and beautiful community.
• Great place to live.
• Health and wellness.
• Great place to visit.
• Community infrastructure.