This unit, supervised by Chief Attorney Boyd Isherwood, is responsible for all of the appeals of criminal and certain civil cases that originate in this jurisdiction including independent civil actions challenging convictions in the District Court. Appellate cases are argued primarily before the two highest courts of this state; the Kansas Court of Appeals and the Kansas Supreme Court.
In both the adult and juvenile prosecution areas, the District Attorney's Office is staffed by qualified Victim/Witness Coordinators whose responsibility is to keep crime victims and witnesses notified of the stages of court proceedings, and to assist victims with questions and concerns they may have regarding their participation in the process. This unit also works with prosecutors and crime victims to determine restitution in appropriate circumstances, and to present this information to the court. Working with the Domestic Violence/Sex Crimes Divisions of the District Attorney's Office, Victim/Witness Division provides specific services for victims of Domestic Violence, sexual assault and stalking. Victim/Witness Coordinators work with many community based organizations to provide resources and referrals for crime victims, survivors and witnesses. These organizations include the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center; Catholic Charities Harbor House, YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter, Child Advocacy Center, FAST, DUI Victims Center of Kansas, and Kansas Crime Victim's Compensation Board.
The District Attorney's Office maintains a specialized unit for the handling of consumer issues. Headed by Chief Attorney Sharon Werner, the unit is comprised of attorneys as well as investigators who handle consumer questions and concerns on a daily basis. The Consumer Division has initiated proactive investigations in our community to explore scams that take consumers' hard-earned money. Such investigations have included a review of auto-repair practices, home improvement fraud, appliance repair scams and business practices that involve price scanning devices that are inaccurate and cost consumers thousands of dollars each year.
In the felony criminal division, over one third of the legal staff is assigned to the prosecution of adult offenders. Within this area of trial practice, certain specialty areas exist. It is imperative that attorneys be trained and proficient in the intricacies of the varied cases that come before the courts. These units, within the trial division, primarily handle the following categories of cases:
The prosecutors in this unit, supervised by Assistant District Attorney Mike Jennings, specialize in narcotics, dangerous drugs, firearms and asset forfeiture violations. The drugs range from methamphetamine to varieties of synthetic marijuana, like K-2. These prosecutors work regularly with both undercover narcotics investigators and with street level enforcement sections including the patrol sections of all law enforcement agencies in the county as well as specialized units, including SCAT and K-9 enforcement.
The attorneys prosecuting these cases have developed expertise in the handling of violent gang crimes, arson offenses and property crimes such as home burglary and those cases where property crimes are ancillary to the gang affiliation. Assistant District Attorney CJ Rieg supervises the Gang Unit.
The attorneys specializing in this area are responsible for the prosecution of cases in the following areas: Sex Offenses, Crimes Against Children, Domestic Violence, Internet Pornography, Solicitation and Homicide cases that originate in these specific areas of crime. The unit, originally developed in 1977 by Nola Foulston who was then a prosecuting attorney, trains experienced staff to manage special victims and to gain proficiency in medical and psychological testimony inherent in these cases. The attorneys, supervised by Chief Attorney Justin Edwards, work to ensure that all victims, especially children, are prepared for the challenges that face them in the criminal justice system.
Housed in the Juvenile Justice Complex, this division of the office operates under the supervision of Deputy District Attorney Ron Paschal. The Juvenile Division is divided into two distinct areas of practice: the offender side that prosecutes offenders under the age of eighteen; and the Child in Need of Care Unit that intervenes on behalf of the child in cases of abuse, neglect and sexual assault.
Attorneys and staff of the Juvenile Division devote time and attention to prevention and intervention measures. One such program, the District Attorneys' Juvenile Intervention Program, accepts first time offenders in non-violent crimes and refers selected individuals to community based organizations who operate as resource referrals to work with juveniles on prevention issues.
In the traffic section of the office, attorneys prosecute violations of the traffic code that occur in Sedgwick County, including those cases initiated by the Kansas Highway Patrol as well as the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office. (City traffic violations are handled in the Municipal Courts). The Traffic division, supervised by Assistant District Attorney Aaron Breitenbach, handles DUI cases, suspended license cases, habitual violator cases and other traffic infractions. This unit also prosecutes Fish and Game Violations in this jurisdiction. A companion program within this unit is the Traffic Diversion Program where drivers who have a reasonably clean driving record are accepted for a deferred prosecution program on certain traffic infractions. If the individual successfully completes the program and remains ticket free for the specified time period, the original ticket will not affect the person's driving record.