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District Attorney

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District Attorney Matthew Van Houten

Welcome

The Tompkins County District Attorney's Office is responsible for prosecuting criminal offenses defined under State law, committed within Tompkins County.

A broad range of offenses are prosecuted, including the most serious felonies (murder, rape, robbery, etc.) down to traffic infractions (e.g., speeding).

 

Mission Statement

The Mission of the Tompkins County District Attorney’s Office is:

To do the right thing, in pursuit of justice, while honoring the Tompkins County Values of Integrity, Accountability, Community and Respect;

To exercise the authority of this office with honesty, fairness, humility and candor;

To hold individuals, ourselves and the criminal justice system accountable for our actions and our decisions;

To promote a safe, healthy, and just community by implementing evidence-based approaches to reducing crime, supporting victims in healing, and demonstrating our commitment that our criminal justice system must be fair for everyone; and

To commit to embracing a culture of inclusiveness where we treat others with dignity, understanding and compassion.

 

From the Desk of the District Attorney

9/23/2020

We have an opportunity to reinvent public safety here in Tompkins County and I am very much looking forward to participating in this process.  The County task force should be starting its work soon and the voice of the District Attorney is extremely important in that dialogue.  The Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School has published a five-step policy plan that I think is insightful and well written. Five-Step Policy Plan

 

9/11/2020

The Institute for Innovation in Prosecution is a valuable resource for prosecutors who are committed to evolving and improving the criminal justice system.  The 2020 document, Prosecutorial Culture Change: A Primer, is a well written paper that I have distributed to the attorneys in this office.  While we already employ many of the recommended practices, there is always more to learn and we embrace our obligation to constantly improve. Prosecutorial Culture Change: A Primer.pdf

 

9/9/2020

The Tompkins County District Attorney’s Office is committed to implementing the best practices from progressive prosecutors across the country.  Studies like the Brennan Center for Justice’s “21 Principles for the 21st Century Prosecutor” are extremely important and reflective of our local criminal justice system’s focus on the implementation of practices that promote public safety while treating individuals with dignity and respect.  https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/2019-08/Report_21st_century_prosecutor.pdf