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Streamlining DA’s Office worth effort, followed by period of self-evaluation

The time-honored saying is you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Newly elected Lycoming County District Attorney Ryan Gardner played his first-impression card rather distinctively, requesting and gaining approval of the Lycoming County commissioners to streamline operations in his office.

He eliminated three jobs in his office while adding two other jobs. The commissioners approved elimination of one assistant district attorney as well as a full-time clerk and a part-time clerk. They approved the addition of two county detectives.

Gardner said he is seeking to streamline the office while reducing the backlog of criminal cases.

And the backlog is substantial — 450 cases a month. That’s not a good look for the county’s justice system and is unfair to everyone involved in these cases, including victims and the accused.

We have a positive view of efforts to streamline government operations where it makes sense, not just to do it. It has to work.

In this case, there are two ways to evaluate the success of these moves. One is quantifiable. We will see in the coming months if the county case backlog is reduced. It’s a matter of record.

The other part of the evaluation is harder to verify. The job of the DA’s office is to dispense justice efficiently and fairly.

We suspect that people inside the county justice system will be the best evaluators of whether this reorganization is working. Efficiency and fairness are two things that are fairly obvious — or not.

If the new district attorney believes these moves accomplish those two tenets better than the existing setup, we applaud the effort to see if it works.

That effort should be accompanied by some strict self-evaluation over the coming months.

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