Both candidates in the race for Smith County District Attorney are speaking out after a newly released audit found that nine prosecutors, including candidate Jacob Putman, violated internal policy numerous times.
The Smith County District Attorney’s Office policy states prosecutors must seek either the signature of the district attorney or the first assistant district attorney when dismissing a felony case. According to the audit, Putman filed 48 cases without seeking a co-signature, since 2013. One of those cases was for Dabrett Black, the man charged in the November 2017 murder of DPS Trooper Damon Allen.
In March of 2016, Black was charged in the beating of a Smith County deputy. Without a co-signature, the audit found that Putman signed off on a plea deal which dismissed one charge against Black and put him in jail for a year.
At a January 25 "meet the candidate" event, Putman said he’s still reviewing the audit, while his opponent said she was angry to see what it revealed.
“A lot of people asked about the audit that was released this week,” says Jacob Putman, Assistant District Attorney and candidate for Smith County District Attorney. “I was in a jury trial doing my job that the Smith County voters pay me to do, so I haven’t had a chance to go through the whole thing yet. Once we’ve reviewed it all, we will be releasing a statement to clarify some of the falsehoods and partial truths that have been put out there.”
“I’m angry and I’m sad for our community,” says Alicia Barkley, candidate for Smith County District Attorney. “These are not just file numbers or case numbers, these are people, and people whose lives are being affected, and they need to have a voice. So again, my goal is to create a system of accountability that we can enforce so that every case gets the attention that it needs.”
District Attorney Matt Bingham said he’s tired of apologizing on Putman’s behalf. He said he is still determining if there will be disciplinary action.