NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - One week from today, one of two Republicans will be elected the next Nacogdoches County District Attorney. No Democrat is running for the office.
The candidates include an incumbent and a retired federal prosecutor.
Incumbent Nacogdoches District Attorney Nicole Lostracco and opponent Rey Morin are both accomplished attorneys. Their experience is always shared first at forums.
"I have 18 years of prosecution experience," Morin said. "Twelve of those years were as a federal prosecutor. I worked at the U.S. Attorney's office in Lufkin. Seven of those years was as a supervisor."
"I'm the incumbent, so I have actually run the office for almost the last eight years," LoStracco said. I was also an assistant district attorney for 8 1/2 years in the same office."
One point of contention introduced by Morin is a two-year-old case where about half of $200,000 in alleged drug money was returned to a defendant. That person was arrested on cocaine charges two weeks later.
"I don't think that's the proper way to handle forfeiture monies like that," Morin said. "If it's drug money, seize it. Seize all the drug money. If it's not drug money than give it back."
LoStracco settled on the return of some, but not all the seized money. It was a good attorney move, she thinks, considering it was probably drug money, but she is aware certain evidence would make it difficult to actually prove.
"I think it's pretty clear that when someone doesn't actually work in the office and doesn't have hands on the case and doesn't know the intricate details of a case that it is very difficult for them to speak intelligently about a specific case," LoStracco said.
Morin criticized LoStracco for hiring a forfeiture attorney to handle the funds. It's a job Morin says he once had. He said, as a district attorney, he would have the time and knowledge to take on the responsibility.
"I'm not going to pay a private attorney to do what's normally done by the district attorney's office, Morin said.
Morin described himself as a hard worker willing to prepare grand jury cases as if it was for trial.
"I strongly believe you need to spend more time preparing cases for the grand jury, and then you won't dismiss as many cases because when you dismiss a case, that's a lot of time and money by a number individuals only for the case to be dismissed," Morin said.
LoStracco said Morin's ideas are unrealistic. She said she asks voters to take a look at Morin's former employer's track record when discussing dismissals.
"At the U.S. Attorney's Office from 2010 to 2012, they indicted only 138 people, yet they filed dismissals on 497 individual offenses," Lostracco said. "It's not the numbers. It's the individual cases that matter."
What matters this week are the voters who have yet cast a vote.
Early voting continues through Friday. Election Day is Tuesday.