Smith County DA’s Office audit shows 173 dismissals, reductions - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Smith County DA’s Office audit shows 173 dismissals, reductions against policy since 2013

DA Matt Bingham DA Matt Bingham

A Smith County District Attorney’s Office internal audit of dismissals and reductions signed by prosecutors against department policy shows 173 were not compliant.

District Attorney Matt Bingham’s policy states prosecutors must seek either the signature of himself or the first assistant when dismissing a felony case.

Bingham’s office conducted the audit after the death of DPS Trooper Damon Allen. Dabrett Black is charged in the murder of Allen.

Black had previously been charged in the beating of a Smith County deputy. Prosecuting attorney Jacob Putman had signed off on a plea deal which dismissed one charge against Black in March of 2016 and put Black in jail for a year. Putman did not have Bingham or First Assistant District Attorney April Sikes sign off on the dismissal.

Bingham said he spoke to Putman in August of 2016, after noticing he had not been seeking his signature on dismissals. The audit shows that in the time since that conversation, Putman dismissed two more cases and did not follow office policy. In one instance, Putman filed a motion to dismiss a charge after a jury had already made a conviction on the case, which is not in accordance with the law regarding dismissals, Bingham said.

Since 2013, Putman filed 48 cases without seeking a co-signature, according to the audit.

Bryan Jiral, who still works for the DA’s office, has filed 47 dismissals and reductions without a co-signature, according to the audit. Bingham said he also spoke with Jiral about this practice in 2015. According to the audit, it does appear Jiral violated the policy on several occasions after that discussion.

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