Many professional (and personal, for that matter) relationships are adversarial and collaborative at different times. Take my work as a professional writer. I need editors for my stories to get ink and to land on readers’ laps. I know that my editors may cut and rewrite my work at their pleasure. Editors need my original research and understanding of complex situations. Aside from the occasional kerfuffle, the system works.
The relationship between police and district attorney offices is not much different. Police need their DA to prosecute criminals, and the DA needs the carefully documenting evidence collected by police to ensure that cases are successfully prosecuted. One cannot exist without the other.
If Fort Worth, our detectives work through what is called Case Investigation and Preparation guidelines that detail the steps involved in case management. There are 13 steps and numerous sub-steps that FWPD officers must follow. In short, detectives gather evidence and present those cases to an intake attorney at Tarrant County District Attorney’s office who either accepts, rejects, requests further work on the case.
Having read this document in great detail, I can tell you that the county has no procedural means of compelling FWPD to submit cases. The DA can obtain a subpoena for specific information, and the DA maintains that it can bring a case forward using a rare event called a “Direct Case,” which involves a fatality and sitting jury.
As I have found out through my personal case, the DA can and does work outside this framework. TCDA’s Disclosure details a very different system that allows ADAs to meet with alleged victims in private to formulate plans to compel FWPD officers to go against their better judgment regarding a case.
Here is a quote for the DA:
“The way they got the police to refer it over was based on that one incident. The ADA told [REDACTED] that [the DA was] going to add charges and also to look into stalking.”
It was around the time that the DA document was drafted that a local peace officer warned me of the outside meddling.
If this were a case where a known felon or murderer was on the loose and FWPD was knowingly aiding that criminal, I imagine most Tarrant County residents would welcome any efforts (inside or outside of stated procedures) that worked toward the public good. In my case, the DA was working to place legal barriers between myself and a close relative at the request of a well-connected family. Intervening in a civil suit seems like a curious interest for the TCDA, to say the least. This may be why our city and county rely on clear guidelines to keep the balance of power, well, balanced.
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