Prosecutor leaving for deployment

Jul. 30, 2013 @ 06:10 PM

Vance County will be minus a prosecutor starting Thursday as John Hindsman, an assistant district attorney, departs for a year of service with the U.S. Army legal justice system.

Orders came for Hindsman to report to the Army’s Fourth Infantry Division based at Fort Carson, near Colorado Springs, Colo. According to District Attorney Sam Currin, he is entitled to return to his job when the deployment in done.

Currin is seeking a replacement for Hindsman during the absence, which would be for a one-year term and possibly longer depending on Hindsman’s plans.

“We are in the process of doing that,” Currin said. “He is being called to Fort Carson to replace someone who is being deployed elsewhere. Vance County being our busiest court, we need to replace him.”

The new ADA would take the position under an agreement stating that the position is at this time scheduled to be temporary, and although the county is down two prosecutors from it’s pre-2010 allotment of five, Currin said tight budgets would make keeping the new prosecutor unlikely.

“They’ll need to understand that coming in,” Currin said. “John Hindsman is entitled by law to return to his job after one year, after his deployment with the Army.”

Hindsman said he does not know yet what his plans may be one year from now. He said he’s looking forward to the work with the Army as a trial council, the prosecution role under the Division Staff Judge Advocate General system commonly known as JAG.

He’s also preparing for the different culture of military preciseness and sudden demands, something he is flexible enough for because he remains single.

“I am on active-duty orders. It is a 365-day activation,” Hindsman said. “I’m not making any plans for after that at this time.”

Hindsman said that JAG cases that come for hearing at Fort Carson could include incidents overseas.

“It’s a much different world, a bigger world,” he said.

According to Hindsman, the Vance County office was for the most part prepared for the adjustments needed in the event of a call to service. He and Allison Capps, another ADA, have been working major cases as a team instead of individual caseloads.

“I was not carrying any of the murder cases individually,” Hindsman said. “She’ll keep the ones that we were working on jointly.”

Other cases will be divided between Capps and Bill Griffin.

Hindsman said he would look forward to working with the Vance County court again, adding, “I have enjoyed my time here.”

The shortage on Vance County’s allotment of five prosecutors began in 2009 with an opening that was not filled until Hindsman started in early 2011.

At the time he started, two of Vance County’s four district attorneys accepted early retirement that was part of an effort to reduce court services staff statewide. The 2011 result in Vance County was a further reduction to three prosecutors.

The Vance County office has been stretched further since then because of extended absences that included an earlier Hindsman deployment for several months and a maternity leave by Capps of about two months starting in late December 2012.

Hindsman said his hope for the office he leaves behind is that the need for a full staff of prosecutors be filled.

“There’s no doubt that there is a need for more prosecutors here in Vance County, but I think that’s common all across the state,” he said. “We’ll take all the help we can get.”

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.