LEGAL SERVICES BUREAU
The Legal Services Bureau of the District Attorney’s Office consists of personnel assigned to the Intake Division and the Appellate Division. These bookend divisions play critical roles at the start and the conclusion of criminal cases.
Bill Delmore, a career prosecutor with more than thirty years of experience, serves as chief of the Legal Services Bureau. A graduate of the University of Texas and the University of Houston Law Center, Delmore clerked for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and then joined the Harris County District Attorney’s Office as a misdemeanor trial prosecutor. Before retiring from Harris County in September of 2008, he served as general counsel to the district attorney, John B. Holmes, Jr.; as chief of the Appellate Division; and as chief of the Legal Services Bureau. In January of 2009, Delmore ended his brief retirement to join the staff of his former Harris County intern, Brett Ligon. Delmore has authored more than 600 appellate briefs, and he has handled numerous capital murder cases in which the death penalty has been imposed. He has represented the State of Texas in several Texas courts of appeals, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the Supreme Court of Texas, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States. Delmore serves as chief of the Appellate Division, and he also serves as special counsel to the district attorney, handling petitions for expunction and nondisclosure, Public Information Act requests, civil discovery, fugitive extradition and other miscellaneous duties assigned by the district attorney.
The Intake Division is generally responsible for the coordination and review of all felony cases and Class A & B misdemeanors filed with our office by the various law enforcement agencies in Montgomery County. The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office (MCDAO) handles the prosecution of offenders arrested by police agencies or suspected of committing crimes by the police. The MCDAO generally does not conduct criminal investigations, as that is the responsibility of law enforcement. Any citizen wishing to report a past crime should contact the police agency that has jurisdiction. All emergencies should be reported to 911 immediately. Police officers who have arrested an individual in Montgomery County prepare an arrest record at the jail. This document is then used by prosecutors to generate a legal document called a complaint and information.
In addition, police officers prepare offense reports which are also forwarded to the Intake Division for consideration of charges. Police and citizens do not file charges or press charges. That is within the exclusive purview of prosecutors. In some occasions, prosecutors may request additional information from police and witnesses before accepting a case. Misdemeanor cases are filed with the County Clerk so that charges can proceed in one of the County Courts at Law. Once the paperwork is filed with the County Clerk, the court records are generally considered public records and are available for review. Police Reports are not considered public records. The procedure for felony cases is substantially similar to those in misdemeanor, except the records are filed with the District Clerk. Some felony cases may be presented to the Grand Jury for consideration of charges rather than have a complaint and information filed.
The Grand Jury’s task is to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that a person has committed a criminal offense. It is not the Grand Jury’s job to determine whether the legally admissible evidence will be sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, that task will later be performed by the district court and possibly a jury chosen for that purpose. The Grand Jury is impaneled by random selection like a typical trial jury. If at least nine members concur in finding probable cause, then the foreman signs an indictment and delivers it to the judge or the clerk of the court and charges then proceed in one of the District Courts. If nine members do not concur in voting for an indictment, then there is no indictment returned.
The Intake Division is also involved in screening and participating in Montgomery County’s two diversion programs for drugs and alcohol. Lastly, the Intake attorneys assist law enforcement agencies with questions they may have prior to filing a case with our office and in preparing search and/or arrest warrants. The Intake Division is responsible for the vast majority of cases.