Sparks Fly in Orange-Osceola State Attorney Debate
July 24, 2012 | WMFE - The two candidates for Orange-Osceola State Attorney engaged in a heated debate at the University of Central Florida Tuesday night.
Former prosecutor Jeff Ashton challenged incumbent Lawson Lamar’s conviction record over the last two years, starting with the 38 people Lamar’s attorneys tried for first-degree murder.
“Eleven of those people are walking the streets today,” Ashton said. “Eleven of them. [Lamar’s attorneys] tried 120 people for rape. Fifty-five of them are walking the streets today. They tried 61 people for burglary, and 30 of those are walking the streets today. I ask you, how does that make us safe?”
Lamar countered that the attorneys in his office take even the toughest cases to trial in the interest of justice, not high conviction rates.
“We went into court, we tried those cases, yes, we lose about half of them,” said Lamar. “But when you try the really hard ones, you win about half of them. So we have the second highest wins at trial of any circuit in the state of Florida. Those are felons in prison, not on our street, and were proud of that. That’s our philosophy. We do it for you every day.”
Lamar and Ashton sparred over other topics ranging from personal finances, to leadership experience, to the Casey Anthony case.
Since Ashton and Lamar are both Democrats, voters will choose the winner in the August primary.
The debate was presented by the University of Central Florida and Central Florida News 13.