The Law Offices of Zachor & Thomas
Attorneys at Law
APPROACH TO MUNICIPAL PROSECUTION

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 case.

Prosecutor Reviews. If a case is not directly filed into court, police sometime forward cases for prosecutors. The Police Incident Report is reviewed by a prosecutor for a charging decision as to whether charges should be filed.   If a charge is appropriate, the correct charge will be recommended, returned to the officer creating the report, and a citation issued and filed with the court. Our prosecution team is completely educated in Sector filings.

Arraignment. When a charge are filed by a police officer, the Police Incident Reports are forwarded directly to the prosecutor's office. In preparation for arraignment the entire Police Incident Report and supporting documents are reviewed to ensure that the essential elements of the charged crime are present.

At arraignment, if the defendant pleads guilty, we are prepared to proceed to sentencing and conclude the defendant's case. Most often though, the defendant pleads not guilty and the prosecutor will make recommendations regarding bail, conditions of release and no contact orders will be proposed to the Court. If the defendant is charged with a DUI, Physical Control or a Domestic Violence incident, an NCIC III is often requested (mandatory in DV cases), to verify out of state charges or convictions.

Pre-Trial/Confirmation Hearing. If the defendant has entered a plea of not guilty at arraignment, a pre-trial/calendar readiness hearing is set by the court. Prior to the hearing, any discovery demands by defense attorneys will receive a timely response with copies of all discoverable materials in the prosecutor's possession. It is essential that the prosecutor be current on the legal requirements of discoverable material. Care is taken to ensure that victim/witness confidentiality requests are honored. If the defendant is charged with a domestic violence offense, the victim is placed in contact with the Domestic Violence Coordinator.

Obviously, this operation requires substantial paperwork and we are fully prepared with the required documents to prosecute and settle a case. We have drafted and use our own Guilty Plea and Stipulation forms rather than modified State or County forms. The guilty plea forms are constantly updated to remain compliant with court rule requirements.

Motions.   A prosecutor’s role is to respond, in writing, to substantive motions by reviewing the police report, evidence and applicable case law.   Some motions require witness testimony and oral arguments. A prosecutor must be able to effectively, clearly and competently argue its position to the judge.

Jury Trial/Bench Trials.   It is the role and burden of the prosecutor to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt.   The prosecutor’s role to be proficient in jury selection (if a jury trial) to obtain the best possible chance of success at trial.   It is also the role of the prosecutor to present all evidence necessary to establish all elements of the crime.   During this process, a significant amount of time is spent preparing civilian and police officer witnesses for testimony and reviewing the case and evidence.  

Prosecution witnesses are contacted by the prosecutor in preparation for trial. In the event a plea agreement is reached prior to trial or trial is continued, witnesses will be notified to avoid any inconvenience.

2. Domestic Violence Prosecution

The prosecutor works closely with the Domestic Violence Coordinator. A criminal charge arising from a domestic violence situation is extremely challenging due to the tension between an adversarial trial process and the psychological issues that arise from domestic violence matters. The prosecutor and the Domestic Violence Coordinator assist each other in facilitating a just and appropriate resolution in the criminal process.

Prosecution of domestic violence cases 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. We recognize that the successful prosecution of this type of case may save the life of a future victim. But, over 50% of the victims recant after the involvement of the police or are unwilling to assist in the prosecution of their abuser.   Our prosecutors are trained to deal with the delicate balance the between the victim seeking justice and their own safety.   This can involve seeking unique resolutions or proceeding to trial without the victim.  

3. 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 up to date knowledge of case law.

We will supply the Police Departments with regular updates. Changes in the law occurs when the legislature adopts or modifies a statute, such as the constant changes to DUI laws since 1998. 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.

Our office has an excellent relationship with the Snohomish County Prosecutor's Office. Our firm has represented Snohomish County as Special Prosecutors in matters where the County has a conflict or for some reason cannot prosecute.

4. Ability to Contact the Prosecutor

Effective prosecution requires communication. The prosecutor must be accessible to the Court and the police department for immediate response to questions. We "field" calls at all times of the day and night.

During business hours, contact may be made with our prosecution team members and office staff. If no prosecutors are available in the office at that time, the office will be able to immediately contact a prosecutor by cellular phone, text message or email.

For purposes of immediate contact during non-business hours, the police department will be provided with cellular telephone number, home telephone numbers and addresses of the lead prosecutors and supervising attorneys.

5. Appeals

Most appeals are started after the prosecutor wins a motion or jury/bench trial.   Prosecutor appellate work is reactive in nature, where the prosecutor responds to appeals filed by defendants.   Adverse findings against the defendant can be appealed as a matter of right. There does not need to be an error by the police or prosecution for this.   In the course of the past representation of the City of Edmonds, this office has initiated one appeal.   That appeal was successful in that the City prevailed both at the Superior Court and Court of Appeals. Most of the appeals initiated are by the defendant and the city historically succeeds.     

 

http://www.zachorthomas.com/, http://www.zachorthomas.com/
The Law Offices of Zachor & Thomas
23607 Hwy 99 Ste. 1D
Edmonds, WA 98026
Phone: (425) 778-2429
Fax: (425) 778-6925
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