A message from the OAG regarding special prosecutors

From Lisa Tanner, Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Division of the Office of the Attorney General:

Happy New Year to each of you.

I’m am writing due to what appears to be some confusion in how you obtain AG assistance in a case after recent changes to CCP 2.07.  Since the change to Art. 2.07, judges have been appointing AG prosecutors as Pro Tems without our knowledge or consent and, unfortunately, it is becoming difficult handle the additional caseload. 

We have a tried and true procedure for assisting you when you need help, and that procedure has not changed.  Because of the apparent confusion, I believe it would be beneficial to us all to set it out here:

The Criminal Prosecutions Division of the Office of the Attorney General exists so that you may call on prosecutors from our office to assist you if 1) you are disqualified or have a conflict of interest and, thus, you need to recuse yourself and seek the appointment of a DA Pro Tem; or 2) you need specialized assistance in a particular case due to its nature or complexity.

Under either circumstance, our initial procedure is the same.  First, you need to send us a written request either by mail or email.  You should address the request to me, my contact information is included in this email below.  Please include, at a minimum, the following information:

1)            The nature of the request (do you need a Pro Tem or assistance?)
2)            If it is a recusal case, the nature of the disqualification or conflict
3)            The type of case, along with name of the suspect/defendant, basic facts (that assists us in deciding into which section and to whom to assign it)
4)            Whether the case is indicted or is an investigation.  If indicted, please include the style and cause number, along with any relevant settings
5)            Whether you are seeking investigative assistance, prosecutorial assistance, or both.

Upon receipt of your request, we log it in and decide whether we accept it.  I do not normally call you to let you know that we’ve accepted your case. (there isn’t enough time in the day!) However, if we are considering not accepting the case, I will call you to discuss.  If we do accept the case, the prosecutor assigned the case will reach out to you to initiate our role in the prosecution.  Our prosecutors are all instructed to reach out to you immediately upon being assigned a case.  

On either type of case, Pro Tem or assist, we are happy to take care of the necessary paperwork for our appointment to be valid.  Additionally, we can provide you with the forms for your recusal if needed.   

Please do not ask a judge to appoint us on a case before hearing from us that we’ll accept it.  Additionally, if a judge indicates to you that he wants to appoint us, please urge him not to do so until the request and approval process has been completed.  

We know that the amendment to Article 2.07 has removed your ability to seek assistance from private attorneys; however, it did not alter the fact that you may also seek assistance from your fellow DAs.  I would urge you to work with your neighboring DAs to handle each other’s “run of the mill” conflict cases whenever you can. 

While we would like to accept every request, we only have about 20 prosecutors to cover all 254 counties of the State.  Because of that, along with time and expense, we rarely accept misdemeanors and sometimes have to make hard choices on which felony cases we can accept; and sometimes, we can’t accept a case because we have a conflict too!  Nevertheless, we want to continue to assist you as often as possible. 

Thanks for your understanding and we look forward to continuing to assist you in seeking justice.  We want to provide you the highest quality prosecution assistance possible, and I hope that this clarification can ensure that we can maintain the standards that you expect from us.  Feel free to call me at the number below to discuss if you have any questions or concerns.

Lisa Tanner
Associate Deputy for Criminal Justice
Chief, Criminal Prosecutions Division
Office of the Attorney General
Office:  (512) 463-3125
[email protected]