1-11-22 DA Jenny Palmer.jpeg

District Attorney Jenny Palmer has been in office one year and gave an update of what has been accomplished and what they hope for in 2022.

January 2022 marks one year in office for District Attorney Jenny Palmer. Here is an overview of what has been accomplished and what is in the works.

The team has come out with force fighting for child victims. It has been one of Palmer's top priorities.

One of the first tasks was appointing two dedicated prosecutors, including a Crimes Against Children prosecutor and an Assault Family Violence prosecutor. This step has been successful in helping victims faster and allows them to work with the same person throughout the legal process.

In addition, a second victim coordinator has been added with one of them specifically dedicated to crimes against children. Victim coordinators answer questions, help ensure the victim's voice is heard and is a constant contact to reach out to. These are the people who deal with victims on a day to day basis and join them in the courtroom. There is also a victim coordinator dedicated to Assault and Family Violence.

One of the biggest sources of excitement is the establishment of a Child Victim Task Force in Henderson County.

"I have been working with Sheriff Hillhouse to create a Child Victim Task force for Henderson County," Palmer said. "He has been great to deal with. I am very excited about that and it will be one of the first of its kind in the state of Texas."

The task force would be a combination of law enforcement and agencies dedicated to child advocacy and help ensure each case is completely investigated.

"We are in the early stages, but we need a task force, these crimes are heinous," Palmer said. "My biggest goal this year would be to have the CVTF up and going with success stories."

I am extremely excited about the task force. It is definitely something that is needed," Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said. "We are going to work together along with other agencies to do everything we can to help our kids in our community."

The program will hopefully be up and running within the year. She also hopes to have a courthouse service dog available to provide a source of calm and comfort to victims while they discuss difficult topics.

Palmer has been actively involved in heading up the Henderson County Sexual Assault Resource Team. Members of law enforcement, victim advocates, sexual assault nurses, the District and County Attorneys all meet quarterly to review cases and victims, making sure that all needs are being taken care of.

"Jenny Palmer has a very strong team and is making great strides. We work very well with them," said Della Cooper, East Texas Crisis Center Victim Outreach Coordinator.

Palmer has also increased communication options for law enforcement and other agencies. She recently offered a legislative update with information on new and changing laws, answering any questions law enforcement officers may have.

"We have implemented an on-call system making us available at all times for officers," Palmer said. "We rotate to make sure there are investigators and prosecutors there for any questions."

The DA's office also held its first awards ceremony, acknowledging the efforts and achievements of law enforcement officers and other agencies.

"It is important to recognize them," Palmer said. "We want them to know they are supported."

A new program was also established in early 2021 called the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, which is for low level non-violent offenders with no prior criminal history. The roughly 12 month program, if completed successfully under supervision, could potentially dismiss their case. Original participants in the program are set to finish the process soon as their term is completed.

"This program is an alternative to prosecution, offered by the office, intended to divert certain offenders from traditional criminal justice processing,” Palmer stated in a previous interview. “This is a program where they are supervised and their case could be dismissed after successful completion. There can be no other pretrial intervention prior to this and is only for low level non-violent offenders.”

The first year was a learning process of how to prosecute heavy caseloads during a pandemic. The DA's office expects a heavy trial docket in 2022.

Palmer said there is no room for ego in her field and she reaches out to other counties and district attorneys, always looking for ways she can learn and grow.

Overall, she continually gives credit to her team and said she works alongside a great group of people, all making extra effort to ensure success.

Trending Video

Recommended for you