New Gregg County District Attorney John Moore continues to work on filling vacancies in his office while bringing on “more experienced prosecutors.”
That includes former District Attorney Carl Dorrough and several people who worked in his office when he was DA.
“Staffing is still an issue,” Moore said of issues he’s been working on in his first three months in office.
With the exception of the largest district attorneys’ offices in the state, staffing seems to be an issue across Texas, Moore said.
“People aren’t even applying to jobs,” he said, wondering if it’s an issue of funding and salaries.
The Gregg County District Attorney’s office has six prosecutor openings.
“It’s doubling, tripling our workload,” Moore said.
“Generally, the district attorney is more of an administrator,” Moore said, but he is “totally involved,” working with his staff to help handle misdemeanors and felonies. He’s as involved in handling cases as much as one of the assistant prosecutors, he said.
His office has been trying to network in its search for prosecutors, talking to law schools and posting on various job sites.
“In the past, the DA’s office was somewhat of a stepping stone,” Moore said. That’s where people came to learn how to be trial lawyers. It seems the profession has changed. I don’t know if people don’t want to become trial lawyers anymore.”
Moore also received approval from county commissioners to widen the salary ranges that are possible in the three salary steps for prosecutors. That means that if he finds someone with experience, he doesn’t have to bring that person in at the minimum salary.
Dorrough began working as a prosecutor in the Gregg County District Attorney’s Office in 1991. He became district attorney in 1998 and served there for 10 years. Then he lost his re-election bid against Tom Watson.
Watson served one, four-year term and chose not to seek re-election. Moore won an uncontested race in November to replace him.
“We have to work through a huge backlog,” of cases, left in part because the courts were affected by COVID-19 and because of the lack of prosecutors, Moore said.
That’s why the experienced prosecutors he’s hired are important, he explained. Dorrough has “helped me tremendously,” he said.
“(Dorrough) is a wealth of knowledge and information,” Moore said.
He’s also hired Chris Botto, Stacey Brownlee and Tanya Reed, all who had worked in Dorrough’s office when he was district attorney. Reed also had worked in Watson’s office.
Moore said he didn’t fire anyone when he took office, but two prosecutors did leave by their choice.
He’s hoping to find additional experienced prosecutors.
“The thing I’m hoping to accomplish is to hire some people so we can make this office more efficient,” he said, and for justice to move at a faster pace than it has been in Gregg County.