J. KIRK ANDRUS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, is the elected chief prosecutor and the chief law enforcement official for the County of Siskiyou and represents the People of the State of California in criminal, and some civil, cases presented before the Superior Court of Siskiyou County. The office has a staff of 24 employees located in the county seat of Yreka, California.
The District Attorney receives his authority from the Constitution of the State of California, Article 11, sections 1(b) and 4(c). The District Attorney’s function is quasi-judicial in nature, and he is vested with discretionary power in determining whether to prosecute in any particular case. Government Code § 26500. The District Attorney is to exercise discretion based upon the interests of the people at large rather than any interested individual. Such discretion extends before and after the decision to file charges, and includes discretion to investigate, what charges to file, what individual to pursue, what punishment to seek, or to determine that any matter, even with evidence of unlawful actions, may be sufficiently addressed without prosecution. Neither the court nor any other person may infringe on this discretion. People v. Parmar (2001) 86 Cal.App.4th 781. No one can institute criminal proceedings without the concurrence, approval or authorization of the District Attorney. Hicks v. Orange County Board of Supervisors (1977) 69 Cal.App.3d 228.
As the public prosecutor he is not the representative of any ordinary party to a controversy but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all, and whose interest is not to win a case but that justice shall be done. People v. Municipal Court of Ventura (1972) 27 Cal.App.3d 193. Though the attorney for the sovereign must prosecute an accused with earnestness and vigor, he must always be faithful to his client's overriding interest that justice shall be done; he is servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that the guilty shall not escape or innocence suffer. People v. Kasim (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 1360.
A district attorney is a county officer in at least a geographic sense, the exercise of his powers as such is limited territorially to the county for which he has been elected, but, considering the nature and purposes of county governments, he is also in a sense a state officer as head of a political organization which is an agent of the state. Pearson v. Reed (1935) Cal.App.2nd 277. However, the District Attorney represents all of the people, including the accused, and should be as solicitous of their rights as a judge would be. See People v. Fong Sing (1918) 38 Cal.App. 253; People v. Hail (1914) 25 Cal.App. 342.
In representing the People in any action the District Attorney is not disinterested in the same respect as a judge or jury. If convinced of guilt, the District Attorney’s interest should coincide with the interest of the public in bringing a criminal to justice. People v. Parmar, supra.
The District Attorney should not use their funds and powers to intervene in purely private litigation. The District Attorney is authorized to participate in noncriminal actions that are in aid of, or auxiliary to, his usual duties. Id.
The District Attorney is responsible for gathering and presenting such evidence as will convict the guilty or exonerate the innocent. Tribulski v. Los Angeles County (1978) 83 Cal.App.3d 828.
The Grand Juries task of conducting criminal investigations is triggered upon the request of the District Attorney. No Indictment is valid without the signature of the District Attorney. Government Code §26502.
The District Attorney’s jurisdiction extends to all criminal actions within the geographical boundaries of the county. A criminal action may be punished within the county if the criminal behavior, 1) commenced outside the state but consummated within that county, 2) commenced within the county and consummated elsewhere, 3) constituted aiding, advising or encouraging by a person outside the state, 4) occurs within 500 yards of the jurisdictional boundary, 5) occurs in a park situated at least partly within the county, or 6) took place on a common carrier that passed through the county during the route on which the behavior took place, Penal Code §§ 778 – 783.5.
Jurisdiction for specific types of cases is as follows.
- Kidnapping, false imprisonment, seizure for slavery: county where the person was taken, into which a crime was subsequently completed, or where any act was done of instigating, procuring, promoting or aiding in the offense. (Penal Code § 784)
- Child Abduction: Where the victimized person resides, where the minor was taken, detained or concealed, or where the minor was found. (§ 784.5)
- Multiple Sexual Offenses or Human Trafficking violations: In any county where any of the properly joinable offenses occurred, as long as the District Attorney from each county of occurrence agrees in writing. (§ 784.7, 784.8)
- Incest, Bigamy: Each may be prosecuted in the jurisdiction where the defendant was apprehended, or where the crime was committed. (§ 785)
- Property Crimes crossing county lines: In the county where the property was stolen or found—or a contiguous county where the arrest was made, if the defendant waives vicinage. (§ 786)
- Terrorist Attacks: Where any act of terrorism took place if part of a common scheme. (§787)
- Treason: If the overt act takes place outside the state, any county in the state has jurisdiction. (§788)
- Property Stolen out of state: Jurisdiction exists in any county through which the property passed after entering the state. (§789)
- Homicide: Jurisdiction is proper in the county where a) the fatal blow was inflicted, b) the person’s life ended, or c) where the body was found. If multiple murders are connected together in their commission, jurisdiction is in any county with jurisdiction over at least one such offense. (§790)