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Conservatives Seek to Stifle Progressive Prosecutors

Mark Gonzalez stood out when he was elected district attorney in Nueces County, Tex., in 2016, even among a growing class of progressive Democratic prosecutors: a former criminal defense attorney with tattoos across his body, including one reading “Not Guilty,” whose name appeared in a Texas state police database of registered gang members. Deemed once as “the most unlikely D.A. in America,” Gonzalez was one of the first prosecutors in Texas to encourage police to ticket people, rather than arrest them, for a range of minor offenses. However, Gonzalez will soon face a trial next month to remove him from office over allegations of “gross carelessness” and “gross ignorance” of his duties, the result of a petition filed by a conservative activist and backed by the county attorney, a Republican, the New York Times reports. The removal effort is one front in an expanding campaign by conservatives to limit the power of Democratic prosecutors who have promised to reform the criminal justice system, or else oust the prosecutors altogether.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida suspended the elected prosecutor in Orlando, Monique Worrell, on Wednesday over her handling of violent crime cases. He did the same last year to the top prosecutor in Tampa, who had said he opposed prosecutions for abortion or gender-related health care offenses. In Pennsylvania, Republican lawmakers led a vote last year to impeach Larry Krasner, who is serving his second term as Philadelphia’s top prosecutor. More than two dozen bills have been introduced in 16 states to limit prosecutors’ power, mostly in Republican-controlled states. Several of those bills have become law, including in Tennessee, Georgia, and Texas. Despite attacks on their policies and attempts to blame them for rising crime, progressive prosecutors still continue to win many elections. Several have fended off challengers and been re-elected by wide margins, including Krasner, who has succeeded so far in fighting off the attempt to remove him through impeachment. New reform-minded D.A.s have also been elected in Minneapolis, Des Moines, and a host of other cities.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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