TDCAA Holds Annual Elected Prosecutor Conference

December 10, 2021

Legislative News

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The Texas District and County Attorneys Association (TDCAA) kicked off its annual Elected Prosecutor Conference in Rockwall on Dec. 1. The three-day conference provided more than 12 hours of continuing legal education for the attorneys who attended and covered a wide array of topics, including a report from the border, an immunity and liability update, and a review of Sexual Assault Response Teams.

In their report from the border, 452nd Judicial District Attorney Tonya Ahlschwede, Val Verde County Attorney David Martinez and Kinney County Attorney Brent Smith highlighted the issues border communities have been confronting over the course of the year. Kinney County, for example, has been facing a docket load of about 500-600 cases per month, most of which are criminal trespass cases. The county previously averaged a docket load of about three cases per month. Although the Border Prosecution Unit did receive funding through House Bill 9, border counties had already experienced many costs before September, and will be unable to be reimbursed for those costs. Moving forward, the county and district attorneys will be looking to turn those funds into a staffing footprint large enough to keep up with their docket loads.

Justin Wood, general counsel for the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas, and Brian Baker, Brazos County’s First Assistant District Attorney, presented on Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs) and the creation of Local Government Code Sections 351.251 et seq. by the 87th Legislature. Wood and Baker went through the details of what is required by Senate Bill 476. The bill mandated that the commissioners court of every county appoint members to and call the first meeting of the county’s SART on or before Dec. 1. Each SART then has one calendar year to develop a written protocol as required by Section 351.256.

Comal County Criminal District Attorney Jennifer Tharp, Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney Sunshine Stanek, Smith County Criminal District Attorney Jacob Putman and 81st Judicial District Attorney Audrey Louis presented on local solutions for mentally ill defendants, giving insight into what each of their counties is doing and how to best stretch county resources.

TDCAA also held its annual business meeting during the conference and adopted a slate of officers selected by the Nominations Committee. The new officers:

  • President Elect: Bill Helwig, District Attorney, Yoakum County
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Greg Willis, Criminal District Attorney, Collin County
  • District Attorney at Large: Isidro “Chilo” Alaniz, 49th Judicial District Attorney, Webb and Zapata counties
  • Assistant Prosecutor at Large: Anshu “Sunni” Mitchell, Assistant District Attorney, Fort Bend County

Jack Roady, Galveston County District Attorney, is now TDCAA’s President, replacing Uvalde County Attorney John Dodson. Dodson in turn becomes Chairman of the Board.
The Texas Association of Counties congratulates all the new TDCAA officers.

For more information about this article, please contact Amy Befeld.