The Law Offices of Zachor & Thomas
Attorneys at Law
Prosecution Philosophy and Approach

Prosecuting Attorney

In order to most effectively serve a Municipality, the Prosecuting Attorney must be accessible.   While most general legal business of any municipality can be handled through regular meetings, mail and email, there are times when prompt access to the Prosecuting Attorney is essential.  For instance, when a possible liability situation arises in the course of the day, it is essential that the Prosecuting Attorney be advised of the event and have the opportunity to participate in and coordinate an appropriate legal response.

We also recognize that easy access to the Prosecuting Attorney can expedite the handling of many routine matters.  Often times, a quick phone contact or email from the Prosecuting Attorney can help to answer questions and avoid delay waiting for a formal conference or council meeting. 

Zachor & Thomas maintains its office in Edmonds.  We serve only Snohomish County municipalities.   We are committed to a philosophy of access and service.  Few of the legal needs of a growing municipality can be served through attendance at council meetings and scheduled briefings.   Most require the ability to speak with the Prosecuting Attorney during regular business hours and a few even require contact in the evening and on weekends.  That is the advantage of local representation.  That is the advantage of Zachor & Thomas.

Prosecuting Attorney

1.  Case Preparation
A prosecutor must thoroughly prepare each case in order to represent the best interests of the community.  Our office adheres to the following general procedures regarding preparation and  prosecution of criminal cases:

A. Prior to arraignment, the entire report is reviewed to ensure that the essential elements of the charged crimes are present.  If they are not, the citing officer is contacted for additional follow-up.  The defendant’s criminal history is reviewed and a plea offer is  prepared.   DUI cases are reviewed for possible vehicle forfeitures.

B.  At arraignment, if the Defendant pleads guilty, the prosecutor is prepared to proceed to sentencing and conclude the defendant’s matters.  If the defendant’s matters are not concluded at arraignment, recommendations regarding bail, release conditions and restraining orders will be made to the Court. 

C.  If the Defendant is charged with DUI or Physical Control, or any other violent offense, an NCIC III is requested to check for out-of-state charges.    
D.  Prior to the pre-trial hearing, any discovery demands will receive a timely response with copies of all discoverable materials in the prosecutor’s possession.  To facilitate the discovery process, pro se defendants are provided with instructions on requesting discovery.  Care is taken to ensure that victim/witness confidentiality requests are honored.  

E.  If the Defendant is charged with a domestic violence offense, the victim is sent a contact letter and a referral to the City’s domestic violence coordinator. The prosecutor will then work with the City’s domestic violence coordinator in resolving the case..

F.  Prior to the pre-trial hearing, settlement negotiations will take place.  It is the policy of the Prosecutor’s Office that the pre-trial calendar is for conducting the business of the Court and not the time to commence negotiations between the Prosecutors and defense counsel.  

G.  If the Defendant’s matters are resolved at pre-trial, the prosecutor will be prepared to proceed to sentencing and conclude the Defendant’s matters.  Otherwise, the prosecutor will begin trial preparation for cases that will be tried.

Trial Preparation
H.  Our office is responsible for subpoenaing of witnesses necessary for the prosecution of our cases. 

I.  All documents necessary for trial will be requested and obtained by the prosecutor.  These include certified copies of driving abstracts, court orders and medical records. 

J.  All prosecution witnesses will be contacted by the prosecutor and prepared for trial.

K.  In the event that a plea agreement is reached prior to trial or trial is to be continued, witnesses will be called off to avoid unnecessary inconvenience to both civilian witnesses and police officers. 

2.  Philosophical Approach to Prosecution
“Due Process” is the concept of fundamental fairness, which requires Prosecutors to protect the rights of victims, witnesses, law enforcement officers, the community and the accused.  Prosecutors are responsible for maintaining the integrity of our justice system and must be equally cognizant of both procedural and substantive due process.

Procedural due process incorporates the Federal and State Constitutions, Washington statutes, Court Rules, evidence rules and case law and sets forth the time lines and requirements under which a criminal or traffic matter shall proceed.  Substantive due process is the individual citizen's perception of whether the judicial process is fair.  For most people, contact with the Municipal Court may be their first and only exposure to the judicial system.  That contact may come in the form of a traffic or parking infraction, as a witness to or victim of a crime or as a member of a Jury Panel.  

A prosecutor plays a critical role in promoting due process.  The prosecutor is the citizen's advocate to ensure that all procedures required by law and court rule are followed.  A procedural due process violation can result in the dismissal of a criminal case.  Prosecutors should provide training and information necessary to assist law enforcement officers in avoiding situations which could result in the suppression of evidence.  The prosecutor is also the advocate of fairness.  Through education and the highest levels of professionalism and ethical conduct, the prosecutor is in a unique position to foster the citizens' trust in the fundamental fairness of due process.  

3.  Domestic Violence Cases   
The prosecutor should work closely with the Victim Coordinator, particularly in the area of domestic violence.  A criminal charge arising from a domestic violence situation is extremely challenging due to the tension between an adversarial trial process and the psychological and emotional issues that arise from domestic violence matters.  The Prosecutor and the Victim’s Coordinator  can assist each other in facilitating a just and appropriate resolution in the criminal process.

The Prosecutor can serve as a resource to the Victim’s Advocate or Coordinator by ensuring that victims of domestic violence are involved with and informed about the criminal process.  While the decision to pursue a criminal case to trial requires collaboration between the Prosecutor, the Police Department, and the victim, domestic violence cases require special emphasis on keeping the victim involved, informed and protected.

The Victim’s Coordinator can serve as a resource for the prosecutor as well. One difficult aspect of domestic violence cases is the unwillingness of victims to prosecute their abuser. The Victim’s Coordinator assists the prosecutor in preparing the witness for trial and conveying to the witness the benefit of proceeding with the criminal prosecution when no other disposition can be reached.

4.  Legal Updates for Police Officers
Criminal law is the most dynamic and fluid area of law being practiced today.  The law surrounding a police officer’s contact with suspects is constantly changing.  The prosecutor’s office must work closely with the police department to ensure that officers have the most current information.  Good cases should never be lost in pre-trial motions.

There are several effective ways in which the prosecutor can ensure that officers receive current information.  The first is the Case Law Update.  On a weekly basis, the prosecutors are provided with full text reports of recently decided appellate cases.  After review of the cases, those having an impact on the police department are summarized and sent to supervising officers for review and distribution.

Changes in the law also occur when the legislature adopts or modifies a statute.    Statutory changes are published monthly in the Session Laws.  Prosecutors review the Session Laws, summarize the impacts to the police department and provide analysis and full text of the proposed changes to supervising officers for review and distribution.  

New legal issues are constantly being created by defense attorneys.  These issues often arise first in other courts.  Prosecutors analyze these issues, determine what corrective action, if any, is required and inform supervising officers.  Other sources of information include Continuing Legal Education seminars which focus on prosecution issues through such organizations as Washington Association of Municipal Attorneys and Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

5.  Ability to Contact the Prosecutor
Effective prosecution requires communication.  The prosecutor must be accessible to the Court, the Police Department, the Domestic Violence Coordinator, crime victims and witnesses, attorney’s and pro se defendants.  Zachor & Thomas maintains regular business hours during the work week.  Our legal staff will be able to put your officers in contact with one of the prosecutors in the firm to answer questions that may arise. 

In the evening, on weekends and holidays, the attorneys at Zachor & Thomas are available to answer questions from officers and assist in the reviewing of search and arrest warrants.,
The Law Offices of Zachor & Thomas
23607 Hwy 99 Ste. 1D
Edmonds, WA 98026
Phone: (425) 778-2429
Fax: (425) 778-6925
© 2019 - The Law Offices of Zachor & Thomas |