Suwannee Democrat

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February 19, 2013

Siegmeister’s goals (+ video)

Third Circuit State Attorney passionate about job

Live Oak — Jeff Siegmeister took over as the newly elected State Attorney for the Third Judicial Circuit on Jan. 8. According to Siegmeister, the transition from private practice to working as a state employee has been enjoyable.

“It’s different, but it has been enjoyable,” said Siegmeister. 
Since taking over the office left by Skip Jarvis, Siegmeister has been busy getting to know his staff.

“I went and introduced myself to each of my staff members. I met with each of them to see how things were going and to get their perspective on things,” said Siegmeister. “I’ve been slowly making some office changes, but change is good when it’s slow. Drastic change is not healthy.”

Since taking the job, Siegmeister said his role is more focused in administration, but he still does get to visit the courtroom every now and then.

“I will be trying a case that is coming up,” he said. “I miss being in the courtroom. I never realized how much I missed it.”

Siegmeister recently stepped inside the courtroom in Lafayette County and tried cases while training an individual. 
“My passion is inside the courtroom,” he said. “A lot of people see my emotions because I take my job seriously. If you care about this job, you will take it seriously.”

“The goal is justice. I’m afraid of the power I’ve been given. If I’m afraid of it, then I’ll always respect it,” Siegmeister continued. “I realize that my signature means that an individual’s life is on the line and I take that very seriously. Even when you do your job, it’s still tragedy for somebody.”

Siegmeister believes his experience and education has prepared him to make the tough decisions that come with the job.

“I believe everything I’ve done has prepared me for this job,” he said. 
Siegmeister attended the University of Florida where he obtained a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture, Microbiology and Cell Science Criminal Justice, History and Chemistry. He later attended UF’s School of Law and graduated with a Juris Doctorate.

Some of his experience includes: Office of the State Attorney, Third Judicial Circuit, Lake City and Live Oak; Assistant State Attorney; Misdemeanor Chief Prosecutor: Felony Prosecutor; Special Prosecutions Unit Prosecutor; and Chief of Columbia County Felony Division "B" Prosecutor; St. Leo University, Lake City and Gainesville Centers: Adjunct Faculty Member, Criminal Justice Dept., Senior legal instructor in Law Enforcement; Columbia County Sheriff's Office, Lake City: Staff Attorney; and private practice.

One of the challenging tasks that Siegmeister handles personally and relies heavily on his experience is the trying of homicide cases.

“Any arrest they make becomes my prosecuting client,” he said. “And when trying to explain the scene to the jury, there’s nothing that replaces being at the scene. So, I personally go to homicide scenes.”

Outside of the courtroom, Siegmeister has several goals that will improve the State Attorney’s Office. His first goal is to restore trial reputation.

Secondly, he wants to give the Third Circuit a medical examiners office.

“I know that it would be a lot of money up front, but in the long run, we would save a lot of money,” Siegmeister said. “I bet we’re paying out approximately a million dollars or more to surrounding examiner’s offices. I want to look in to a joint effort with surrounding counties to see if it would be a possibility.”

His third goal is he wants to re-evaluate the space the State Attorney’s Office is currently using and see if it could be reduced.

“I’m very considerate of how much money we use of the tax payer’s budget. I want to see if there’s a way we can reduce space by building a smaller building or just relocating to trim our operating budget,” said Siegmeister.

Lastly, Siegmeister is seeking to reconstitute the special prosecuting unit.

“I have a lot of goals for the office, and I plan to do everything I can to move the office forward,” he said. “I hope I do as good of a job that I know I’m capable of. I love my job.”

 

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