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See also: Prosecutor

The district attorney (DA), in many jurisdictions in the United States, represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses. The district attorney - an elected or appointed official - is the highest officeholder in the legal department of the jurisdiction – generally the county in the U.S. – and supervises a staff of assistant (ADA) or deputy district attorneys. Depending on the system in place, district attorneys may be appointed by the chief executive of the region or elected by the voters of the jurisdiction.

The title "district attorney" is used by several jurisdictions of the United States, including Massachusetts, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas.

History and role[edit]

The United States Judiciary Act of 1789, Section 35, provided for the appointment of a person in each judicial district to prosecute federal crimes and to represent the United States in all civil actions to which it was a party. Initially, there were 13 districts to cover the 11 States that had by that time ratified the constitution. Each State was a district, except for Massachusetts and Virginia which formed two. Districts were added when additional States were admitted. The statute did not confer a title upon these local agents of federal authority, but subsequent statutes and court decisions referred to them most frequently as “district attorneys.” In 1948, the Judicial Code adopted the term “United States attorneys.”[1]

This term for a prosecutor originates with the traditional use of the term "district" for multi-county prosecutorial jurisdictions in several U.S. states. For example, New York appointed prosecutors to multi-county districts prior to 1813. Even after those states broke up such districts and started appointing or electing prosecutors for individual counties, they continued to use the title "district attorney" for the most senior prosecutor in a county rather than switch to "county attorney."

An executive assistant district attorney (EADA), chief assistant district attorney (CADA), or first assistant district attorney is a title given the senior-most manager in a prosecutor's office under the district attorney.[citation needed] The people who hold these titles are generally considered the second-in-command for the office, and usually report directly to the head prosecutor. The exact roles and job assignments for each title vary with each individual office, but generally include management of the daily activities and supervision of specialized divisions within the office. Often, the EADA may oversee or prosecute some of the larger crimes within the jurisdiction. In some offices the executive assistant district attorney has the responsibility of hiring lawyers and other staff members. Often, the EADA supervises press-releases and oversees the work of the office staff.

At the local level in other jurisdictions, officers such as the commonwealth's attorney, state's attorney, county attorney, circuit solicitor, or county prosecutor carry out functions similar to those performed by a district attorney.

Other jurisdictions[edit]

In the United Kingdom, positions equivalent to a district attorney are the chief Crown prosecutors (or Crown prosecutors in the case of deputy or assistant district attorneys) of the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales, the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland, and the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland. In many other countries, the title of the chief prosecuting officer is Director of Public Prosecutions.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


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Wisconsin Law Journal

Wed, 23 Jul 2014 02:00:00 -0700

In the run-up to the Aug. 12, 2014 primary election for state attorney general, Democrat Ismael Ozanne has stressed his experience as the Dane County district attorney and as a former deputy secretary of the state Department of Corrections. On June 7 ...
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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:22:30 -0700

In addition to as many as 20 elections this fall for district judge, there are six open district attorney seats. Add to that another five DAs who are expected to be challenged and four more races that are developing slowly with roughly a month to go ...


Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:38:32 -0700

The Los Angeles District Attorney has charged the singer with ten different crimes stemming from a drunken, reckless night at the Beverly Hills Hotel, TMZ reports. The night in question occurred last spring, when Ray J was ordered to leave the bar at ...

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:03:45 -0700

BOSTON — The Suffolk district attorney is asking the state's highest court to step in after a district court judge cleared a woman of assault without hearing any evidence and without a prosecutor in the courtroom. Chelsea District Court Judge Benjamin ...
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:37:30 -0700

MANDEVILLE, La. -- A woman who used to work for St. Tammany Parish Hospital said she was replaced by the brother of St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed while she was out on medical leave this year, who worked full-time hours and ...
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Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli is warning the public not to give false testimony in court after a rash of incidents in the past six months. In a news conference this afternoon, Morganelli said there have been several cases of ...

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