Dallas South News Wire (Dallas Co. District Attorney’s Office)
Today Dallas County District Attorney (DA) Craig Watkins announced that he will appoint a local law firm to collect an estimated $35 million in outstanding bond forfeitures owed to the county. The District Attorney’s Office, which is understaffed and underfunded for a jurisdiction of its size, does not have the resources to designate assistant district attorneys to focus on the collection of bond forfeitures.
Thus, the DA will select and hire a law firm (as allowed by the statute) to handle the outstanding funds from default judgments that had gone uncollected for years prior to Mr. Watkins taking office in 2007. The firm hired to spearhead this effort will retain 25 percent of the total amount collected and the remaining balance will go into the county’s general fund.
“A recent report stating that there are no policies and procedures in place at the DA’s office is absolutely incorrect,” said Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins. “We have been looking into this issue for the past two years. In 2010, we hired a bond forfeiture subject matter expert to work full-time in our Civil Division to seek forfeiture judgments in current civil cases.
However, it is going to take more than one individual to proactively go after default judgments that were never collected. Therefore, we will have to bring in someone from the outside to manage the collection of these funds as our civil attorneys are already busy representing the county on a host of other civil matters.
During my first term, we focused on cleaning up the failures of the past and improving policies and procedures to operate more efficiently. This is among many issues that still need to be corrected and hiring a law firm to dedicate their time and attention to resolving this issue is the first step.”
The Dallas County District Attorney’s (DA) Office is located at the Frank Crowley Courts Building in Dallas, Texas, and is led by District Attorney Craig Watkins, who began his second term on January 1, 2011. The DA’s Office represents the State of Texas in the prosecution of all Dallas County criminal cases. For more information about the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, visit www.dallasda.com.