Experts Say Lack of Resources Caused Clerical Error

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POLK COUNTY, Iowa  --  On Monday, we learned a man awaiting trial for first degree murder was set free due to a clerical error.

On Tuesday, the Polk County Attorney’s Office is talking about what went wrong.

Michael Moss is a convicted murderer who appealed his conviction claiming his original attorney was ineffective. The courts granted Moss a new trial by an appeals court, which gave the Polk County Clerk of Courts' Office and the Polk County Attorney's Office 90 days for retrial.

The Attorney’s Office never acted because an assistant failed to submit the necessary paperwork.

"We feel bad about it, but this is the exception, not the rule. This is the first time in a number of years we've been doing this job that this has happened," said Polk County attorney John Sarcone.

Michael Moss, who had already been convicted of murder once, was let go.

"The assistant involved has talked to the family and expressed obviously how upset we are with the whole situation," Sarcone said.

We asked a law expert why this error happened, and Robert Rigg said Iowa courts need more resources.

"The more work you ask someone to do and the more paper you ask them to process and if you underfund that system and you don’t have enough people and you keep doing that over a period of time, you will see more mistakes," he said.

Court administrators say the judicial system is already down about $5 million.

"There are real consequences when you underfund a judicial system. I am not saying this is sole attribution to that, but it would cause me great concern," Rigg said.

Millions of dollars in more cuts are on the way come June.


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