Doug Eichholz says he has one reason to seek his second full term as Warren County attorney.
“I love this job,” he said. “You get to work with so many different groups, different law enforcement agencies, all the different county offices, township officials. You get to deal with people and help facilitate what the right solution should be, whether that’s a criminal case and trying to find justice for a victim, or two people who have a dispute over where a fence should go and who should pay for it.
“We get to deal with the whole gamut here.”
Eichholz has filed to run in the November election. As of the filing deadline, Friday, March 25, no one had filed to run against him.
The county attorney oversees an office of seven attorneys, five of whom handle criminal matters, said Eichholz, a Republican. About 65 to 70 percent of the cases the office handles are criminal cases, he added. One attorney is dedicated to juvenile court and another is focused on civil matters, including advising county offices on their legal needs.
Each year, Eichholz added, he works with the staff in his office to develop a list of goals.
“Every year I put out a document and say these are what are priorities are,” he said. “The office gets a say in what they want to see done also.”
A key priority relates to victims of crime.
“Last year our priority was making sure that victims knew what their rights are under the code,” he said. “Making sure that officers alerted victims of their rights and you always want to make contact with victims right away and see that they’re in connection with other people who can help.”
That can include putting them in touch with those who committed crimes against them. A priority in 2022 is implementing the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program or VORP. The program is used in Polk County, but not in many other places, he said.
The VORP program brings the victim and the offender together with a mediator to talk about what happened.
“It’s a chance for the victim to talk to the offender and find out why this happened,” he said. “Hopefully the offender will take it to heart, and maybe apologize for what they’ve done to this person.”
Eichholz said the hope is to help the victim deal with their feelings about the crime, but also help the offender to understand how their actions affected another person and possibly decide not to do it again.
The program is optional for victims, he said, “it’s really about giving them a chance to turn the page and move on.”
Other priorities for 2022 include establishing a memorandum of understanding to create a drug task force.
The Warren County Board of Supervisors allocated $320,000 in money from Warren County’s American Rescue Plan Act funds to relaunch a Warren County drug task force on Eichholz’s request. Eichholz served as the county’s drug prosecutor for the Warren and Marion County attorney’s offices until early 2006.
The office also plans to possibly set up dedicated courts for OWIs and drugs. Other goals include focusing on the consequences of crime, including the payment of fines and jail fees, according to the 2022 priorities.
Goals for 2021 included focusing on collecting past financial obligations, naming a training director to work with law enforcement to provide training, and working with the board of supervisors to update the county’s code of ordinances.
According to Eichholz’ web site, he has spent 21 years working in county attorney’s offices, including as first assistant to county attorney John Criswell from January of 2011 until he was appointed county attorney. He also was an entry level assistant with the Black Hawk County Attorney’s office and then working in the Warren County attorney’s office from 2000 to 2006. In April of 2006, Eichholz moved over to serve the unexpired term of Madison County attorney Martin Ramsey, who left office due to illness.
Eichholz was appointed Warren County attorney in January of 2017 to fill out the last two years of John Criswell’s term in office. He’s now three years into his first full term in office.