Former state senator Dave Aronberg is the new top prosecutor. He takes time to share his goals and the story of his namesake.
Dave Aronberg was an eight year senator in Tallahassee before becoming Florida's special prosecutor for prescription drug trafficking, a job he referred to as "Drug Czar".
Aronberg is now Palm Beach County's State Attorney and he has some lofty goals for the office, including improving the conviction rate, which he calls "rock bottom" and the lowest in Florida. He wants to make sure the attorneys representing the state and victims of crimes are well trained. He also wants to improve the morale in his office.
Dave talks about the "last elected state attorney" without mentioning his name, claiming Michael McAuliffe refused to work with the statewide prosecutor, who reaches out to the state attorney when there is a case spanning more than one county in Florida.
That statewide prosecutor is a longtime associate of Aronberg, the two worked together when Bob Butterworth was the Florida Attorney General, and Nick Cox served as Dave's boss when current state AG Pam Bondi appointed Cox as statewide prosecutor.
In fact, when Bondi's father fell ill, she cancelled her plans to deliver Aronberg's keynote speech at his swearing-in ceremony. Cox filled in and Aronberg said, "Nick Cox, the statewide prosecutor came down and he was amazing, and that was an honor because the state attys office and the statewide prosecutor's office has had an uneasy relationship in recent years and that's something that's gonna change and the fact that Nick Cox was there meant that the icy days of old have now thawed."
Aronberg has hired to his management team Al Johnson, the chair of the PBC Ethics Commission. "I made a pledge that we would have the most ethical state attorney's office in Florida, and bringing Al Johnson on board, I think, goes a long way toward fulfilling that pledge."
We also speak with the new top prosecutor on how to change the feelings of loved ones of those who have been murdered. He cites the case of Makayla Sitton, the little girl who was killed in her bed on Thanksgiving night in 2009 in Jupiter, along with three relatives. Her killer took a plea deal that saved his life, but relatives claim they weren't given much input in the matter.
Aronberg says he plans to change that. "You don't want the specter of a victim on his knees in court, pleading with the judge to reject a plea deal. If that happens, and that's what happened in the Sitton case, that's a failure of the state attorney's office, not a failure of the victim."