Talking with San Diego’s Chief Deputy DA Tracy Prior about Remote Preliminary Hearings

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Prosecutors all over the country are finding ways to adapt to the “new normal.” Hear from them in PCE’s new series of video interviews. 

Chief Deputy District Attorney Tracy Prior shares how San Diego conducts preliminary hearings by using a combination of Microsoft Teams, social distancing in the courtroom, and a secure, separate phone line that the defendant and defense attorney can use to communicate privately.

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Virtual Mental Health Court in the Yolo County DA’s Office, California

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Prosecutors all over the country are finding ways to adapt to the “new normal.” Hear from them in PCE’s new series of video interviews. 

In PCE’s first interview of the series, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven explains their unique approach to conducting Mental Health Court hearings via Zoom. Without a bailiff, court reporter or clerk, the Mental Health Court judge and other participants have conducted these virtual, informal hearings since April, 2020 despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.   

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Victims, Witnesses, and Defendants with Mental Illness or Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

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Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) or mental illness are overrepresented in the criminal justice system, as victims, witnesses, suspects, and defendants. In an effort to inform prosecutors’ strategies when working with these individuals, PCE, in collaboration with the Arc and NAMI, has developed a guide that includes the following information:

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National Human Trafficking Prosecution Best Practices Guide

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Human trafficking is the second most profitable criminal industry behind the drug trade, estimated by the International Labor Organization to be a $150 billion industry worldwide. To better equip prosecutors to address this devastating crime, the National District Attorneys Association’s Women Prosecutors Section developed a National Human Trafficking Prosecution Best Practices Guide. The guide provides an overview of sex trafficking and labor trafficking, various state and federal trafficking laws, working with victims, the investigative process, and more. Read

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New PCE Publication: Triage of Forensic Evidence Testing – A Guide for Prosecutors

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As the demand for forensic evidence has exploded, so has the pressure on crime laboratories to keep pace with an ever-growing workload. This paper, developed by PCE’s Executive Director Kristine Hamann and St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office Chief of Trials Rachel Smith, addresses the critical question of how best to maximize the resources of a public forensic laboratory. This question is explored in three different parts, each with an emphasis on the prosecutor’s perspective:

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Truancy-Reduction Programs

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The Problem:  According to a 2019 article from the Department of Education, over seven million (or one in six students) missed 15 or more days of school in the 2015-2016 school year. The highest rates of absenteeism occurred at the high school level, where chronically absent students also represent those most likely to drop out. Dropping out of high school has been linked to poor outcomes in adulthood, from poverty and diminished health to involvement in the criminal justice system.

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