Tulare County District Attorney Announces Retirement at Board of Supervisors Meeting

Tulare County District Attorney Phil Cline today formally announced at the Board of Supervisors meeting his intentions to retire from office on December 15, 2012 and made a recommendation to fill his position for the last two years of his current four-year term.

“I’m very, very proud of all of the people who have worked for me as District Attorney and who I’ve worked with as District Attorney. It’s been something that has made me a success. It’s not due to my efforts as much as it is to their support of me. I honor this Board and thank this Board for supporting me,” said District Attorney Cline as he addressed the Board of Supervisors.

District Attorney Phil Cline’s current term began on January 3, 2011 and was set to expire January 5, 2015. The District Attorney’s position will be up for reelection in 2014. District Attorney Cline began his career in this elected position when he was appointed in 1992 to complete the term of his predecessor, Jerry Sevier.

During his address at Tuesday’s meeting, District Attorney Cline recommended that the Board of Supervisors appoint Tulare County Assistant District Attorney Tim Ward as his successor based on his success as a prosecutor and his administrative experience, particularly with administering the department’s budget.

“Tim is eminently qualified and ready to serve the mantle of District Attorney,” District Attorney Cline told the Supervisors.

Ward was hired as a Tulare County Deputy District Attorney in 1999. In 2006, he was hired as Supervising Attorney and was later promoted to his current position, Assistant District Attorney, in April 2011. The Assistant District Attorney position serves as an assistant department head and assists in the planning, organization, coordination and direction of the legal and administrative functions of the department.

The Board of Supervisors has the authority to appoint all vacancies in any office filled by the appointment of the Board and elective officers, except Judge of the Superior Court and Supervisors.

Chairman Ishida said the Board of Supervisors will consider Ward as a potential candidate for the District Attorney position and hopes to make an appointment by the end of this month.

“I would like to thank District Attorney Cline for his years of leadership and commend him for his innovation. Tulare County has been very lucky to have Phil Cline as District Attorney,” Chairman Ishida said.

Highlights of District Attorney Cline’s career with Tulare County:

Since taking office in 1992, Phil Cline initiated numerous programs that enhanced public safety and addressed the needs of victims of crime.

Mr. Cline established the Violent Crimes Division within the office with specially assigned prosecutors and investigators to handle homicide, career criminal, major narcotics, and gang cases.  He also was a moving force behind the creation of the first County Gang Task Force and his office still coordinates multi-agency anti-gang operations around the county as well as high profile patrols that reduce gang presence and violence at family and community events such as the county fairs, holiday parades and car shows.

He created a Family Protection Division with specially assigned prosecutors and investigators to handle Child Abuse, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Elder Abuse, and Child Abduction cases. As part of this effort, he introduced the Child Abuse Response Team (CART) program to insure child victims were not re-victimized by repeated and unnecessary examinations and interviews.  

The county's first White Collar Crime Division was started by Mr. Cline to handle crimes against local businesses.  Over the years, the division was expanded to address Workers Compensation Fraud, Automobile Insurance Fraud, Welfare Fraud and Real Estate Fraud. Significantly, a Consumer Fraud unit was added to insure a level playing field was maintained for those businesses who adhered to legitimate business practices.

An especially important accomplishment involved Mr. Cline personally creating the state’s first multiple county Rural Crime program to protect the Agricultural Industry from crime.  He traveled frequently to Sacramento and Washington D.C. in order to obtain funding for the program and eventually oversaw the creation of Ag Crime task forces in each of the counties in the Central Valley.  The ACTION project (Agricultural Crime Technology, Information and Operations Network), a conceptual offshoot of the Rural Crime Program, introduced high technology to the fight against agricultural crime and was used to link each county task force in the central valley.

Part and parcel of these efforts have been a strong commitment to programs to prevent crime and to strike at the root causes of crime such as a program to reduce teen pregnancy which received statewide recognition as well as being able to direct funding to libraries and after school reading programs to help fight illiteracy.  

Mr. Cline was the moving force behind the creation of a Tulare county Veterans court.  The court was eventually created to help divert troubled veterans out of the criminal process so they could take an honored and productive place back in the society they sacrificed so much to protect.

The Bureau of Victim's Assistance, a division in the District Attorney's office, was also created by Mr. Cline to provided specialized assistance to victims of crime.  Victim's advocates were employed and trained specifically to assist and support victims as their cases moved through court.  Additionally, special advocates worked on obtaining restitution and, where appropriate, state assistance for victims to help them recover from crime and reclaim their lives. Additionally, special public education campaigns were launched by the Bureau to help citizens avoid becoming victims and activities such as the Homicide Quilt Ceremony and the Justice Run, to honor and remember victims of crime.