Jana Duty’s mandate

Posted in Commentary, District Attorney, Williamson County at 3:28 pm by wcnews

It’s pretty clear that a good deal of people in Williamson County are expecting significant changes throughout the justice system with the election of Jana Duty as District Attorney to replace John Bradley.  So it’s not a surprise that there will be significant staff changes in the District Attorney’s office, Next Williamson County DA already shaking up staff.

Newly elected Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty won’t take office until January, but she already has told 10 office employees — a third of the staff — that their services will no longer be needed.

Five prosecutors, an investigator, a court coordinator, an executive assistant, a receptionist and a forensics specialist were told they wouldn’t have a job as of Jan. 1, and the victim services director also resigned.

Duty said she didn’t want to keep some of the prosecutors because they were “indoctrinated in the John Bradley school of thought,” what she called a closed-file policy under which defense attorneys weren’t allowed to see the evidence against their clients until shortly before trial.

Bradley, the district attorney who lost to Duty in a bitter Republican primary in May, described those let go as “good and professional employees” and said Duty was “blinded by her political hatred.”

Several prosecutors said they had already announced their intention to leave the office at the end of the year, and prosecutors Jana McCown and Lindsey Roberts each sent Duty a letter this week calling her statements to the American-Statesman untrue and threatening possible litigation, saying Duty’s claims could damage their reputations.

Bradley said he has had an open file policy for trial cases since taking office, adding, “We expanded that policy to all cases about a year ago.”

Duty said the reasons for the other planned terminations departures in the office varied. “Some people were rude. Some are unprofessional. Some I do not trust.”

People were given notice this month so they would have time to look for other jobs, Duty said. “It is a big turnover, but that office is in need of being shaken up a little bit,” she said.

Duty said she plans to be fully staffed by Jan. 1. The office typically includes 12 prosecutors, the district attorney, five investigators, three victim/witness coordinators and nine support staffers.

“It’s not unusual to have a lot of changes early on,” when a new district attorney takes office, said Rob Kepple, executive director of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. “Everybody gets to set their office up and get the people in that they want.”

But it’s not just the people that need to be cleaned out, it’s the old way of “doin’ bidness” in the DA’s office that must also change. I’ve long held that many of the problems with the justice system in Williamson County have to do with the county’s rapid growth.  The county can no longer be run like it’s Hazzard County, it’s time to grow up.  These excerpts from the comments to the article above highlight what’s expected:

I voted for Duty because she has made a reputation of making alot of the esablishment angry and I hope she continues to do so.

Shake and Bake, good for you and the county.maybe NOW there will be Justice in Williamson county.

Duty has every right to clean house entirely if she wants to and start all over. It’s her responsibility now and she will be held accountable by the voters. She had better produce along the lines of those who elected her.

Great news for Williamson County! Finally we may start to see fair, consistent justice in this county.

..under John Bradley I’ve seen people screwed over for things they never committed, all based on what officers say to the DA’s office. It’s all about making it look like you are tough on crime, but as Bradley showed with the Michael Morton case, he just does NOT give a sh*t about the people..

Similar to what President Obama face in his first term – trying to fix the long festering problems of his predecessor – that’s what Duty is facing. Williamson County and John Bradley’s unfair and unequal justice over the years, is what was voted out on election day.  Voters are expecting progress to a more rational, fair and equal justice system.  If Duty can deliver on that mandate it will be a welcomed change.

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