Tarrant County will lose a treasured list of legal talent Dec. 31.
First assistant district attorney Marvin Collins and civil division chief Ray Rike have announced their retirements along with some top assistants, and others are expected to leave as District Attorney-elect Sharen Wilson brings her own leadership team. The office has not had a shakeup in nearly half a century.
Collins, a former U.S. attorney, and Rike have served the county in various positions for 57 years.
Their counsel is trusted not only at the courthouse but also by lawyers statewide who look to Tarrant County’s experienced staff.
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That is about to change, and Wilson is bringing not only new chief prosecutors and civil attorneys but also new missions for the office beginning Jan. 1.
Wilson, a 22-year district judge, has named a leadership team with impressive experience.
Prosecutor Greg Miller, years ago a Fort Worth police Officer of the Year, will return to a staff where he prosecuted some of the office’s most prominent murder and capital murder cases during a 16-year career.
Former prosecutor Larry Moore, more recently a board member and volunteer for the Innocence Project of Texas, will return to the office where he once served as director of the criminal division. One of Wilson’s new initiatives focuses on reviewing the science and evidence behind past convictions to identify cases of “actual innocence.”
Judge Mike Mitchell joins Wilson’s staff after 24 years as a county criminal court judge.
For the civil section, Wilson turned to Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office to hire David Harris, a former Southlake city councilman with experience representing law officers and judges in litigation.
Besides the new innocence effort, Wilson also will devote some staff to investigate and prosecute more white-collar crimes, particularly abuse of the elderly and financial abuse of the elderly.
That sounds needed. But new projects and new crackdowns also mean new cases in court, new trials and new costs up and down the criminal justice system.
If Wilson’s changes make the Tarrant County justice system more effective without making it significantly more expensive, they will be welcomed.