Letters to the Editor

What are the attributes of a good DA?

Today’s candidate filing deadline will set the field for the first wide-open election in half a century for Tarrant County district attorney. What do you think the district attorney should do more of, or less of? Should Tarrant County be “tougher on crime” (if so, which ones?) or thriftier with public resources?

As a former Texas prosecutor, I say that, foremost, a district attorney has a duty to do justice.

That means prosecuting people who are guilty and not prosecuting those who are innocent.

A district attorney should be a great teacher to the community, a protector and a leader.

He or she should be experienced in the demanding criminal law arena, highly knowledgeable and competent in the law and procedure.

He or she must see the big picture and demand accountability, but temper it with mercy when appropriate.

Above all, a DA must have unquestionable professional and personal integrity. Sharen Wilson has all of these important attributes.

— Marty Leewright, Fort Worth

District attorneys feel tremendous pressure to produce timely convictions of those accused of a crime. Some will go out of their way and even violate the law to get a conviction.

Should we ease up on the number of convictions to prevent convicting an accused innocent?

I don’t think the citizenry would approve of this approach but would heartily endorse methods to ensure that wrongful convictions do not occur.

The old method of punishment — “an eye for an eye” — perhaps should be applied to district attorneys who wrongfully convict. Let them finish the sentence of the wrongfully accused.

Wrongful convictions are travesties of justice. Hundreds of lives have been wasted serving time for others’ crimes. Hopefully, we will elect a DA who will institute methods of reducing or eliminating wrongful convictions.

— Grady Fuller, Kennedale

In this first wide-open election in 50 years for Tarrant County DA, the position for a new DA isn’t hard, given the facts of how the DA’s office has operated in years past.

The taxpayers aren’t particularly happy that our money paid to settle sexual harassment allegations involving District Attorney Joe Shannon.

We need a DA beyond reproach, knowing and exercising fiscal responsibility and getting tougher on crimes involving rape, murder, child and elderly abuse.

— April Rogers, Fort Worth

It’s not an either/or job: The DA should intelligently deal with each case efficiently and effectively in the best interests of the residents of Tarrant County.

— Richard Freeze, Fort Worth

The District Attorney’s Office has been doing a good job as far as prosecuting crime in Tarrant County is concerned. Where it is severely lacking is in the realm of employee relations.

They got so bad that sexual harassment allegations were brought against the sitting DA.

We, the voters of Tarrant County, will never know the truth, or falsity, of those allegations due to the decision by the Commissioners Court to opt for a secret, no-fault settlement.

A disservice, in my opinion.

It is to Joe Shannon’s credit that he decided to retire, and thus spared us the decision between the fairness of accessing and voting on his record as district attorney, of simply dismissing him because the charges might be true.

The next district attorney should, without diminishing our criminal justice apparatus, pay more attention to employee relations and morale within the Tarrant County justice system.

— Joel Downs, Hurst

We convict too many innocent people. If there isn’t already an in-house monitor to examine each case for police and prosecutorial misconduct, employ one. Cooperate with all innocence projects.

Seek the penalty of life in prison without parole instead of the death penalty.

Vigorously prosecute public corruption and police brutality. Protect us from our own government.

Prosecute all DWI-related deaths as homicides.

Use prosecutorial discretion on laws that criminalize what should be private moral choices, such as possession of drugs for personal use (except by minors), prostitution that does not entail coercion or public nuisance, and persecution of sexually oriented businesses.

Remember that a district attorney’s purpose is to protect the public by achieving justice, not pile up convictions to look good.

— George Michael Sherry,

Fort Worth

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