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Prosecution: United States Attorney - Origins Of The United States Attorney, The Selection Process, Daily Operations, Role In Local Law Enforcement

federal attorneys criminal district

An United States attorney is the chief federal law enforcement officer in one of the ninety-four judicial districts in the United States (excepting Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, which share a United States attorney). Appointed by the president, with the advice and consent of the Senate, United States attorneys work with grand juries and law enforcement agencies to investigate federal crimes, authorize or decline prosecutions, and determine the charges to be brought and the manner of prosecution. Overseeing a staff of assistant United States attorneys who conduct much of the day-to-day work of the office, the United States attorney is responsible for trying federal criminal cases on behalf of the United States, as well as negotiating guilty pleas and representing the United States in the appellate courts within the district. The United States attorney is also the principal litigator for the United States within his or her district in civil matters.

United States attorneys differ from state and local prosecutors in several respects. First, unlike district attorneys who must rely principally upon state and local police for investigative assistance, United States attorneys can typically draw upon the national resources and personnel of federal law enforcement agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration. (This is obviously useful in investigations and prosecutions that involve witnesses or evidence located in another district or even another country.) Next, while the legal authority of local prosecutors to investigate crime is generally limited to the state in which they work, the United States attorney can bring to bear the broader legal authority of the federal government. Working with a federal grand jury, which has nationwide subpoena power, the U.S. attorney can compel witnesses to appear in his or her district from wherever in the country they may be found. When a federal criminal defendant is arrested in another district on criminal charges brought by the United States attorney, there is no need for extradition; after a brief hearing to establish his identity, the defendant is simply transported from the district of arrest to the district where charges are pending.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, most local prosecutors are elected to serve as the principal prosecuting authorities in their jurisdictions and, with their assistants, are broadly responsible to the electorate for the effective enforcement of criminal law. (There are roughly 25,000 to 30,000 state and local prosecutors nationwide; in 1996 these officials filed close to 998,000 felony charges.) The presidentially appointed federal prosecutor is somewhat different. Subject to removal by the president, he or she is responsible for protecting direct federal interests in the enforcement of certain laws—those reaching international terrorist activity, for instance, or prohibiting false statements to federal agencies or the counterfeiting of U.S. currency. More commonly, however, the federal prosecutor faces situations in which possible federal charges overlap with charges that could be prosecuted by state or local officials, who handle most criminal cases. (There were 4,773 assistant U.S. attorneys working in the ninety-three U.S. attorneys' offices as of August 1999; together, these offices have averaged about 35,000 cases annually since 1930.)

Because the U.S. attorney is not the principal prosecuting authority in a jurisdiction and is not viewed as such, a federal prosecutor may well decline prosecution in circumstances where potential criminal charges can be effectively handled by state or local authorities. On the other hand, the U.S. attorney may elect to prosecute—either to vindicate federal interests implicated in a case or to assist state and local authorities in addressing more local concerns. In practice, this means that the United States attorney probably exercises even broader prosecutorial discretion than most other prosecutors.

The Attorney General of the United States has statutory authority to supervise the work of the United States attorneys and the U.S. attorneys act generally within guidelines promulgated by the Department of Justice. In practice, however, the federal prosecutor has considerable autonomy. The daily operations and priorities of each U.S. attorney's office are largely under the U.S. attorney's control. And though the attorney general has the authority to take direct control of any case falling within the jurisdiction of the U.S. attorney, this authority is rarely invoked. As set forth below, the United States attorney's relative freedom from central authority derives not only from his or her distance from Washington, D.C., but also from the historical development of the position and the process by which each United States attorney is selected.


Prostitution - Social Attribution And The Construction Of Prostitution As A Social Problem, Transaction-cost Approaches To Prostitution: From Repression To Regulation [next] [back] Prosecution: Prosecutorial Discretion - Varieties Of Discretion, Subjects Of Prosecutorial Discretion, Standards Of Prosecutorial Judgment, Controlling Prosecutorial Discretion

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almost 9 years ago

thank you for this site. we have a case in wichita falls,tx., that is filled with crimes of the d.a.'s office. prosecutorial gross misconduct, malfeasance, etc. our attorney general in texas, has so far ignored my charges. it's like nobody wants to address this problem, for the work,i.e. investigation of that office. prosecutors are to seek justice, not conviction, suppressing evidence, obstructing justice, all for fame, glory, re-election. defense lawyers go along with it, especially in small towns like this, to get fat,i.e., monetary gain. our case, 7 years fighting, third trial coming up, over $65,000 lost,all because they're scared I'll sue for malicious conduct. on first case, the A.D.A.'s wife was allowed witness tampering for 3 years before trial, going out to plaintifs' house, coaching, then during trial, coaching with hand signals in courtroom. so much more to this, please direct me to someone that actually will investigate this, and help an innocent man. I don't know how many more there are, been goin on for years. thank you. don't tell me to go to state bar. no help there. maybe if someone told ones here, to help, they would. thank you. connie bennett.

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over 8 years ago

Me and my wife of almost 17 yr.we rented at 32411 2nd.Ave Black Diamond,Wa.The landlord had a shop on the property,I had repeative called the police about preditoral stalking activity,found his freinds going threw our home,my cars were rigged witched caused wrecks,before this my work van had been tamered with,tires sliced on in side to cause wrecks,as i was a designer and tryed to report power theft,was told by the power comanie,they new him and what he was even using,and to by him a meter as I called the police they told me to place blankets over windows,they caused loss of jobs careers,they dint even live on the property,but way down on the opposite side of the street,they were able to undermind my wife from the start,many things happed there to me because the direct result.He had even blocked me and my daughter inside the home with scaffling he spent 4 consective saturday to coat our trailer roof,8 hour days,we had left and came back later,blocked inagain my daughter was yelling daddy.as the sunday came wife and me being intoment,on our bed romm wall,this is not the first time as late one night behind our rented trailer,as I had stepped out and sat in the shadows he came stepping out from behind the shop,our bed was in the middle of the window,so you can just imagine,what was taking place with out anyone relizing,I was victomized by this,I was alone,as me and wife had moved into her parents home,there was the same activity I had reported a teritoral preditor stalker,but it was much more like a serial killer,as we had moved,to this property in secret this activity was going on,my family was part of aleat design team that spanned the world.But my wifes jehovah witness freind were being used as a divertion,for this kind of activity to go on,life threating I tryed to hide the truth from my wife what had happened,trying to find a place to move but they would cost me a job career or a vehicle as they new we could not replace these things,so i had stopped and relizing what was taking place,i was out of work,but working part time for my wifes bosses husband,he instance that he ran things and unsafe practice and so he was able to lie to his wife mine and so it was just like what had been going on before,had called at 6 am in the morning telling him I would not be in,so he was able to lie and manipulate a judge,knowing it would cost me my unemployment,out of hatred and retalation,they new how to manipulate the law,as earler,I had always tryed to protect my family,there tactics were those that u dont hear or hear about crime stories ,12 years ago I was trying to write a novel of unknow to most,but i had stopped,knowing how deadly there were,so they made sure I lost everything,even family this carried to our family homes as behind my brother inlaw new million dollar estate,we had family from calf, oregon and washington,as I stepped out behind the barn I was repeatively shot at this is not the first,they neighors or some had drugged my coffee,as i had alway left it on our trailer decking this had happened a few times my boss I had to follow to our home as I was groggy and going out someone spoke from the shadows we are going to do this over and over again,this was done to me the first time,so you can understand the sisters from wifes congeration were from oregon and washington,i had done study with a person ,the last 17 yrs, i had worked in guess 30,000 bussiness and homes and some on a repeated bases threw the yrs.but ii was just a common worker,I was doing private design work for patents on my own designing water walkers self propelled pontoon shoes(skies) for familys of the world and many othere projects,but most of everything was destroyed,computers software,I have worked in many fields,but they were sure to make sure I lost everthing,just a true story