In Davidson County and Rutherford County , there are contested elections for the office of District Attorney. Some voters just have a vague notion of what the duties are of the District Attorney. I have a confession to make, even though I have been practicing criminal defense law since 1994, I never read what the statutory duties are of the District Attorney are until this year. I was researching what duties are not delegable. In thinking about the election, I thought I would share what are the duties of the District Attorney General.
The office of District Attorney General was created under Article VI Section 5 of the Tennessee Constitution. The Tennessee Legislature spelled out the duties of the District Attorney General in T.C.A. 8-7-103.
Each district attorney general has the following duties:
(1) Shall prosecute in the courts of the district all violations of the state criminal statutes and perform all prosecutorial functions attendant thereto, including prosecuting cases in a municipal court where the municipality provides sufficient personnel to the district attorney general for that purpose;
(2) Shall prosecute in the federal court all criminal cases removed from a state court in the district to any inferior court;
(3) May cooperate and assist, upon the request or direction of the attorney general and reporter, in the bringing, prosecution, defense, preparation, and trial of all cases in the circuit and chancery courts in which the attorney general and reporter is required to appear for the protection of the state or the public interest;
(4) Shall give an opinion, without charge, whenever called upon by any county officer in the district, upon a question of criminal law relating to the duties of the county officer's office;
(5) Shall submit to the office of executive director for the district attorneys general conference within ninety (90) days after the end of each fiscal year, a written report specifying:
(A) Each source from which funds were received by the office of the district attorney general during the fiscal year;
(B) The amount of funds received from each source; and
(C) The disposition of such funds;
(6) Shall have discretion in the performance of duties and responsibilities in the allocation of resources available to such district attorney general, any other provision of law notwithstanding; and
(7) Shall have authority to delegate the foregoing duties and responsibilities to an assistant district attorney general.
The power to prosecute criminal cases is a great power . I remember the line in Spiderman , "with great powers comes great responsibilities".