District attorney

In the United States, a district attorney (DA) is the chief prosecutor for a local government area, typically a county. The exact name of the office varies by state.

Except in the smallest counties, a district attorney leads a staff of prosecutors, who are most commonly known as deputy district attorneys (DDAs). The Deputy who serves as the supervisor of the office is often called the Assistant District Attorney. The majority of prosecutions will be delegated to DDAs, with the district attorney prosecuting the most important cases and having overall responsibility for their agency and its work. Depending upon the system in place, DAs may be appointed by the chief executive of the jurisdiction or elected by local voters.

The district attorney, and assistant district attorneys under the district attorney’s authority, are the attorneys representing a government body as prosecutors who are responsible for presenting cases against individuals and groups who are suspected of breaking the law, initiating and directing further criminal investigations, guiding and recommending the sentencing of offenders, and are the only attorneys allowed to participate in grand jury proceedings.[1]

District attorney
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Shield of an Assistant District Attorney (ADA)
Occupation
Occupation type
Profession
Activity sectors
Law practice, law enforcement, politics
Description
CompetenciesAdvocacy skills, analytical mind, sense of justice, political fit
Education required
Law degree, bar exam
Fields of
employment
Government legal service
Related jobs
Prosecutor, state's attorney, commonwealth's attorney, United States attorney

History and role

The United States Judiciary Act of 1789, Section 35, provided for the appointment of a person in each judicial district to prosecute federal crimes and to represent the United States in all civil actions to which it was a party. Initially, there were 13 districts to cover the 11 States that had by that time ratified the constitution. Each State was a district, except for Massachusetts and Virginia which formed two. Districts were added when additional States were admitted. The statute did not confer a title upon these local agents of federal authority, but subsequent statutes and court decisions referred to them most frequently as "district attorneys". In 1948, the Judicial Code adopted the term "United States attorneys".[2]

This term for a prosecutor originates with the traditional use of the term "district" for multi-county prosecutorial jurisdictions in several U.S. states. For example, New York appointed prosecutors to multi-county districts prior to 1813. Even after those states broke up such districts and started appointing or electing prosecutors for individual counties, they continued to use the title "district attorney" for the most senior prosecutor in a county rather than switch to "county attorney".

Nomenclature

District attorney and assistant district attorney are the most common titles for state prosecutors, and are used by several major jurisdictions within the United States, such as California, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.

In St. Louis, Missouri, the title is circuit attorney,[3] while in St. Louis County, Missouri, the title is prosecuting attorney.[4] Alternative titles for the office include commonwealth's attorney, state's attorney, county attorney, circuit solicitor, or county prosecutor.

Other jurisdictions

In the United Kingdom, the equivalent position to a district attorney is a chief crown prosecutor,[5] and the equivalent to an assistant district attorney is a crown prosecutor.[6] These prosecutors work under the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales, the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland, and the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland. In many other countries, the title of the chief prosecuting officer is Director of Public Prosecutions.

In Canada, the equivalent position to a district attorney is a crown attorney, crown counsel or Crown Prosecutor depending on the province, and the equivalent to an assistant district attorney is the assistant crown attorney, assistant crown counsel or assistant crown prosecutor respectively.

Assistant district attorney

The assistant district attorney (assistant DA, ADA), or state prosecutor, is a law enforcement official who represents the state government on behalf of the district attorney (DA) in investigating and prosecuting individuals alleged to have committed a crime. In carrying out their duties to enforce state and local laws, ADAs have the authority to investigate persons, issue subpoenas, file formal criminal charges, plea bargain with defendants, and grant immunity to witnesses and accused criminals.[1]

Administrative assistant district attorney (admin ADA), executive assistant district attorney (exec ADA), chief assistant district attorney (chief ADA), or first assistant district attorney (First ADA) are some of the titles given to the senior ADA leadership working under the DA. The chief ADA or first ADA, depending on the office, is generally considered the second-in-command, and usually reports directly to the DA. The exact roles and job assignments for each title vary with each individual office, but generally include management of the daily activities and supervision of specialized divisions within the office. Often, a senior ADA may oversee or prosecute some of the larger crimes within the jurisdiction. In some offices, the Exec ADA has the responsibility of hiring lawyers and support staff, as well as supervising press-releases and overseeing the work of the office.

District Attorney Investigators

Some District Attorneys maintain their own law enforcement arm whose members are sworn peace officers. Depending on the jurisdiction, they are referred to as District Attorney Investigators or county detectives.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Standards on Prosecutorial Investigations". abanet.org. American Bar Association. 2017. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  2. ^ "History of the Federal Judiciary – Federal Judicial Center". www.fjc.gov. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  3. ^ "City Of St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office – Kimberly M. Gardner – Circuit Attorney". www.circuitattorney.org. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  4. ^ "Home". www.stlouiscopa.com. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
  5. ^ "About The CPS : Chief Crown Prosecutors". www.cps.gov.uk. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  6. ^ "Crown Prosecutor Careers: The Crown Prosecution Service". www.cps.gov.uk. Retrieved November 13, 2017.

External links

Allegheny County District Attorney

The Allegheny County District Attorney is the elected district attorney for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The office is responsible for the prosecution of violations of Pennsylvania commonwealth laws. (Federal law violations are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania). The current District Attorney is Stephen Zappala.

In 1995 the Assistant District Attorneys formed a collective bargaining unit and voted to be represented by the United Steelworkers of America. The bargaining unit also represents Assistant Public Defenders, Scientists in the Coroner's Office (now the Office of Medical Examiner) and computer professionals in the Prothonotary's Office (now the Department of Court Records.)

Law

Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

A general distinction can be made between (a) civil law jurisdictions, in which a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, and (b) common law systems, where judge-made precedent is accepted as binding law. Historically, religious laws played a significant role even in settling of secular matters, and is still used in some religious communities. Islamic Sharia law is the world's most widely used religious law, and is used as the primary legal system in some countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.The adjudication of the law is generally divided into two main areas. Criminal law deals with conduct that is considered harmful to social order and in which the guilty party may be imprisoned or fined. Civil law (not to be confused with civil law jurisdictions above) deals with the resolution of lawsuits (disputes) between individuals and/or organizations.Law provides a source of scholarly inquiry into legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. Law also raises important and complex issues concerning equality, fairness, and justice.

United States Attorney

United States attorneys (also known as chief federal prosecutors and, historically, as United States district attorneys) represent the United States federal government in United States district courts and United States courts of appeals.

The prosecution is the legal party responsible for presenting the case against an individual suspected of breaking the law, initiating and directing further criminal investigations, guiding and recommending the sentencing of offenders, and are the only attorneys allowed to participate in grand jury proceedings.There are 93 U.S. Attorney offices located throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. One U.S. Attorney is assigned to each of the judicial districts, with the exception of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands where a single U.S. Attorney serves both districts. Each U.S. Attorney is the chief federal law enforcement officer within his or her particular jurisdiction, acting under the guidance of the United States Attorneys' Manual. They supervise district offices with as many as 350 Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) and as many as 350 support personnel.An Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA), or federal prosecutor, is a public official who represents the federal government on behalf of the U.S. Attorney (USA) in criminal prosecutions, and in certain civil cases as either the plaintiff or the defendant. In carrying out their duties as prosecutors, AUSAs have the authority to investigate persons, issue subpoenas, file formal criminal charges, plea bargain with defendants, and grant immunity to witnesses and accused criminals.U.S. Attorneys and their offices are part of the Department of Justice. U.S. Attorneys receive oversight, supervision, and administrative support services through the Justice Department's Executive Office for United States Attorneys. Selected U.S. Attorneys participate in the Attorney General's Advisory Committee of United States Attorneys.

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