Amelia Bean-DeFlumer steps into permanent role of Delaware city prosecutor

Paul Comstock
ThisWeek
New Delaware city prosecutor Amelia Bean-DeFlumer stands outside the Delaware Justice Center, 70 N. Union St., home to her office and the Delaware Municipal Court. Bean-DeFlumer previously worked for the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office. At the city, she succeeds former prosecutor Natalia Harris, who is now the city attorney.

Delaware's newest city prosecutor first worked in the city as a college intern and liked the city so much she decided to stay. 

Amelia Bean-DeFlumer served as the acting prosecutor for the city for five months after Natalia Harris left the position in 2019 to become the city attorney for Delaware.

Bean-DeFlumer said she has been with the office since 2018 and has prosecuted felony cases for the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office for five years before moving to the city’s office.

She said she attended law school at Ohio State University, which had "a prosecution clinic where students come up to Delaware and handle cases for the Delaware Municipal Court.”

“So I did that, started working here in the municipal court. I actually had my first trial in front of now retired Judge David Sunderman,” she said. “I really liked the feel of Delaware. And when I was looking for jobs, it was a natural place to look because I like the small-town feel, and I lived at the time about a half an hour south.

 "I started with the county as an intern because they were willing to take on an unpaid intern. Eventually, they hired me there,” she said. “I worked out there five years, got a little burned out on felonies because it happens. So when there was an opening (with the city prosecutor's office), it was just kind of a return to my roots, and just a natural step for me was to go back where I started. And I fell in love with Delaware and just never left."

Harris said she’s thrilled Bean-DeFlumer will lead the prosecutor’s office team.

“She brings a strong, steady, community-minded approach to enforcement,” she said.

Bean-DeFlumer said she has handled 51 jury trials, including 27 with the county prosecutor.

The city prosecutor's office handles misdemeanor criminal and traffic cases at Delaware Municipal Court, which covers all of Delaware County.

Harris has said the city prosecutor's office handles about 20,000 cases a year in the court.

That volume of cases means "a much faster pace down here, not just because of the number of cases filed, but because of the speedy trial rights of the defendants," Bean-DeFlumer said.

"You have more time on felonies (at the county office),” she said. “We're processing cases much faster down here. I had to develop a completely new skill set as a prosecutor to be able to try cases quickly and prepare cases quickly. They don't have months to prepare cases, which I did up the street with felonies." she said. 

The city prosecutor's office has overcome a number of challenges related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Bean-DeFlumer said.

"It's been so much change. It's been an interesting transition trying to figure out how we're going to navigate things,” she said. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we were not set up to work from home. Prosecution is a hard thing to do from home. We need to be in the courtroom. So it's been a transition to (the remote meeting app) Zoom. The court started using Zoom and holding electronic hearings, which is not something the court had been doing until the pandemic. So that has been absolutely crazy. Just trying to figure out that transition and how can a prosecutor's office operate remotely."

The municipal court and the city prosecutor have stayed open throughout almost all of the pandemic, she said.

"We did pretty quickly get into a good habit of rotating through prosecutors – who's at home, who's in the office,” Bean-DeFlumer said Jan. 27. “We do a lot of hearings electronically now. Even now that we're reopened and we start jury trials back up …, we're still doing hearings remotely. Because we now have that process and we're now used to how to do it. So that has actually been a huge benefit of the pandemic. We can use those resources moving forward, and we've all gotten comfortable with them at this point."

She said improving the office's digital capabilities is a goal.

"What we have is getting us through the pandemic. It is a joint goal of mine and Natalia Harris, the city attorney, to make our office more digital,” she said. “The way of the world is electronic. It's turning digital. We're getting more and more digital evidence, and we are not properly equipped to manage that evidence in an efficient manner. Yes, we have the resources we need to get through and survive. But the goal of myself and Natalia is to work on increasing our ability to handle the digital world that we live in." 

She said her transition to the office's lead prosecutor has been smooth.

"I've been with the city for two years now, and I worked very closely with Natalia Harris because she was the city prosecutor. It's been a very easy transition for me because I already know everyone,” she said. “It was really just stepping into a leadership role from what I was doing. And I was appointed the interim prosecutor back in September."

Among city employees, "everyone is always very welcoming,” she said.

“They're always willing to help. Anytime a question comes up, I can reach out to anyone with the city, and they will get back to me as soon as they can,” Bean-DeFlumer said. “That's something I've always loved about the city both now and when I started. It's just how welcoming everyone is and how much they want everyone to succeed." 

The city prosecutor performs a vital role in serving the public, she said.

"The thing I've said in the past is I'm a prosecutor for Delaware. That's what I've been since I started my career, and that's what I want to continue doing,” she said. “The reality is that the prosecutor's office, we are here for the public. We serve the public. We want to help make the citizens of the county and the city safe. I think a lot of times people view the prosecutor as not necessarily a good person, especially for the people who come into our courtroom. And that's not the reality. We are not here to lock people up. We are here to serve justice."

City public-affairs coordinator Lee Yoakum said Bean-DeFlumer's annual salary is $82,500. Benefits include medical and dental insurance, life insurance, a pension plan, paid vacation, sick leave and tuition reimbursement.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews