November-December 2015

Management training for prosecutors is coming

Rob Kepple

TDCAA Executive Director in Austin

We all know a prosecutor’s job description as provided in Article 2.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure: “It shall be the primary duty of all prosecuting attorneys … not to convict, but to see that justice is done.” But implementing this duty is a whole other ballgame. Implementation of this special duty is what we call management.
    Elected prosecutors must not only define justice, but also implement the methods to see that justice is done. This special duty means that elected prosecutors and their management teams must effectively lead their staffs and other law enforcement down this narrow path. Policies must be drafted to serve as road maps, and excellent communication must exist to ensure that the management team’s concept of justice is heard and understood at the lowest levels of an office’s operation. This new area of training is a focus of the Foundation, which is actively seeking support for a comprehensive management training program for Texas prosecutors.
    Management is a difficult task. Quite often, the individuals who are promoted into management positions do so because of their courtroom success, as opposed to their ability to manage other people. That’s understandable. Our job is to make sure that skilled trial prosecutors learn the skills to manage others in the office. That is a different set of abilities that’s not really addressed in current law-office management programs, which focus on civil law-office management.
       Thus, in March 2016, TDCAA will host its first three-day Prosecutor Management Training in Fredericksburg. We have woven various management topics into our other courses over the last several years, but this training will be dedicated to this subject alone. Enrollment will be limited in this first year to approximately 36 attendees due to space limitations. The course will begin on Sunday, March 6 and go through the morning of Tuesday, March 8, 2016. Be sure to keep an eye out for a brochure and website announcement in December to apply.

Training our trainers
When the State first invested in professional prosecution back in 1979, I doubt our leaders knew how far we could come in 36 years. The Professional Prosecutors Act of 1979, which represented a commitment by Texas to devote resources to criminal prosecution, focused attention on the continuing need to train young lawyers and office personnel. Those of us who are in the trade today “caught the wave” of training that began in the 1980s, and we have seen the benefits.
    The Foundation is proud to support a keystone to that training: production of our yearly Train The Trainer course. This course, first developed in the 1990s by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sought to replace the “get up and give a talk” approach to adult education with a method of training lawyers in the art of passing their skills on to others. From designing course objectives to deciding on useful PowerPoint graphics, a lot goes into an effective learning event.
    This year, TDCAA—with critical support from the Foundation—will host its Train the Trainer program March 8–11 in Fredericksburg. This is our chance to take those rising stars in the courtroom, in the office, and in the field and help them become stars at TDCAA seminars. This is a limited-enrollment, invitation-only course, but if you have knowledge and skills that you want to pass on to others (or if you supervise such a person in your office), please let us know! This is just one way the Foundation supports professional prosecution in Texas.