Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Elected Prosecutors -- How do they run their offices? Are they challenged at the polls?

Most prosecutors are never challenged for re-election, reports the Waco Tribune-Herald in a very thoughtful review by reporter Cindy V. Culp.

Culp also wrote a very detailed story about how look at the performance of a prosecutor's office.

The first article identifies questions that incumbent prosecutors ought to be asked:

Questions that should be asked include:

* Is the prosecutor being thoughtful about priorities for his office, or is he just going with the flow?

* To what extent does the prosecutor hold other attorneys in the office accountable for the choices they make? How does he do that — for example, does he sample their work periodically?

* Is there general waste? Are resources being thrown at crimes that don’t really deserve them?

* How accurate is the office in evaluating cases? Put another way, how often do the crimes defendants are convicted of match up with the crimes they were initially charged with?

[University of Arizona law professor Marc] Miller, who has extensively studied prosecutor decision making, said he would add these additional questions:

* What guidelines govern whether prosecutors pursue cases or decline them?

* What percent of the cases that prosecutors receive from law enforcement are pursued?

* For cases not pursued, what are the general reasons?

This is excellent journalism.

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