Audit: DA’s office in Texas county violates policies
TYLER, Texas (AP) — An internal audit of a district attorney’s office in eastern Texas shows nine prosecutors violated policy related to the dismissal or reduction of charges.
The Smith County office audit was released Tuesday, the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported . It shows 30 percent of the nearly 675 cases in which charges were dismissed or reduced were done in violation of office policy during the past five years.
District attorney candidate and prosecutor Jacob Putman tallied the highest number, dismissing or reducing nearly 80 cases without getting the proper signatures on court paperwork, according to District Attorney Matt Bingham. The next highest offenders were prosecutors Bryan Jiral at 47 cases and Jeff Wood at 42. Wood left the office in 2015.
Bingham said the audit became necessary when he learned that Putman dismissed and reduced charges in a Smith County felony case against a man charged in the November shooting death of Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Damon Allen.
“I’m upset that this happened during my term and that it will be part of my legacy,” Bingham said.
Bingham’s policy requires prosecutors to get permission from him or the first assistant DA if they need to dismiss or reduce charges. But the audit, which went back five years, shows not all prosecutors followed the policy.
“This is the first audit of this kind that we have done,” Bingham said. “This was a good starting point for us because of access to records and because that is when most of the prosecutors who are working here started to work felony cases.”
Bingham said he has made it clear any violation of policies would result in discipline up to termination. Putman was still employed as of Tuesday, according to county personnel records.
Putman released a statement Tuesday saying he was reviewing the audit information.
Information from: Tyler Morning Telegraph, http://www.tylerpaper.com