The County Attorney's Office is primarily a criminal prosecution agency representing the citizens of the and the victims of crime. The office enforces felony, misdemeanor and traffic laws as well as "child in need of care" matters, "care and treatment" cases, and civil asset forfeitures, involving both adults and juveniles. Also, the office deals with post conviction matters, including direct appeals and habeas corpus petitions. The County Attorney generally practices in the District Court of the county; the Court of Appeals of the State of Kansas; and the Supreme Court of the State of Kansas.
Prosecuting attorneys are ministers of justice, charged with seeing that justice is done. That which is just in one case may not be just in another. A simple change in facts from one case to another may require a different result. "Justice" is the goal, not "winning."
It is the duty of the prosecuting attorney in a criminal prosecution to see that the state's case is properly presented with earnestness and vigor, and to use every legitimate means to bring about a just conviction, but he/she should always bear in mind that he/she is an officer of the court and, as such occupies a quasi-judicial position whose sanctions and traditions he/she should preserve. State v. Price, 24Kan.App2d 580 (1997).
While a prosecutor desires to assist a given crime victim, it is important to note that the prosecutor serves all citizens at the same time. Officially, the prosecutor represents the people of the State of Kansas. Consequently, the prosecutor maintains a dual focus on the particular interests of each case, and on the interests of justice in a larger society. In each case the prosecutor evaluates a myriad of facts and circumstances from a variety of sources, and exercises broad discretion in determining whether to charge a case; which prosecution strategy to follow; whether to dismiss a case; and whether to negotiate and enter a plea agreement. Professional decisions made by a prosecutor affect crime victims, citizens, taxpayers and criminals.
In addition to responsibilities related to criminal prosecutions, the County Attorney's Office is also responsible for representing the County and its officials in civil proceedings. This includes proceedings in state and federal courts as well as proceedings before administrative agencies such as the State Board of Tax Appeals.
The County Attorney also provides advice and legal services to the Board of County Commissioners, elected county officials and other county department heads on a daily basis. Typical matters involve economic development, employment, contract drafting and interpretation, negotiations, acquisition, or disposition of County property and many other legal matters.
Despite popular misconception, the County Attorney, in his capacity as County Attorney, does not provide legal services to citizens concerning their private legal affairs or civil disputes. The County Attorney's Office may be able to assist citizens by providing them with information concerning how to contact appropriate private legal counsel.