Randolph County Commissioners expressed their surprise Monday at the sudden resignation of Prosecuting Attorney Richard Busch. Once the reality set in, the commissioners began thinking about what needed to be done next and how quickly that must be accomplished.
There were some stressful and hurried moments in the commission office and meeting room during the afternoon. That's certainly understandable considering that the commissioners had somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 minutes between the time they received Busch's letter and the time his resignation went into effect.
Some legal questions arose; most prominently what does the county do without a prosecutor? The commissioners weren't versed in the protocol, and called in an attorney for advice. Employees in the prosecutor's office continued working, but as it turns out there's one important duty they couldn't fulfill - prosecuting criminals. According to state code, the assistant prosecutors can't take on that role without a prosecutor in place.
To keep the local legal system moving, Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong plans today to appoint Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Chrissy Harper as the special prosecuting attorney and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Mendelson as the special assistant prosecuting attorney on a case-by-case basis.
Those decisions were made quickly because they had to be. They were not, however, made in haste.
The next hurdle in the county's legal system will come with the selection of the person who will fill Busch's approximate one-year term. Commissioners are accepting applications and expect to make the appointment by Dec. 23. While that may seem like an extended time frame, it really isn't for making such an important decision. It is our hope that commissioners take careful consideration, and more time if needed.