The Trial Bureau of the District Attorney’s Office consists of personnel divided into two divisions, the Felony Trial Division and the Misdemeanor Trial Division.
Kelly Blackburn is the Chief of the Trial Bureau of the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office. He is responsible for the daily supervision of, as well as ensuring the training and mentoring of all Assistant District Attorneys assigned to the felony and misdemeanor trial courts of Montgomery County.
Blackburn grew up in Brownwood, Texas. He attended Texas Tech University and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Political Science.
Montgomery County has four District Courts with jurisdiction over felony offenses. The District Attorney's Office has assigned a team of four prosecutors to each of these courts, consisting of a Court Chief and three additional, experienced prosecutors. These prosecutors handle thousands of felony offenses each year.
In evaluating a case, the prosecutor examines the evidence and the offender's previous criminal history, interviews witnesses, consults with the victim, and makes a determination regarding whether a plea bargain should be offered to the defendant. In cases which are not disposed of by an agreed sentence, the prosecutor prepares the case for trial by a jury of twelve citizens of Montgomery County. The sentences that have been assessed by Montgomery County juries directly impact the sentences offered by prosecutors in evaluating similar cases for plea bargaining or trial.
The Misdemeanor Trial Division of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of all Class A and B misdemeanors filed in Montgomery County, as well as the Class C misdemeanors filed in the Justice of the Peace Courts.
Class A misdemeanor offenses are those for which punishment may be assessed at a fine of up to $4000, incarceration in the county jail for up to one year, or both such fine and incarceration. Examples of Class A misdemeanors include Driving While Intoxicated-Second Offense, Assault with Bodily Injury on a Family Member, Theft from $500 - $1500 and Burglary of a Motor Vehicle.
Class B misdemeanor offenses, like Driving While Intoxicated-First Offense and Theft from $50 to $500, are those for which punishment may be assessed at a fine of up to $2000, incarceration in the county jail for up to 180 days, or both such fine and incarceration.
Class C misdemeanor offenses are those for which punishment may be assessed at a fine only, and include Health & Safety Code violations, Parks & Wildlife Code violations, as well as traffic offenses such as Speeding and Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility (driving without valid insurance).
The Misdemeanor Trial Division is staffed by ten prosecutors that are assigned to the three County Criminal Courts and the Justice of the Peace Courts. These prosecutors are assisted by two investigators and four support staff. On average, this division handles over 10,000 cases a year. The Misdemeanor Division Chief and County Court Chiefs train the misdemeanor prosecutors to follow the highest ethical standards, to properly evaluate and try criminal cases, and to see that justice is done.
Upon graduation, Blackburn moved to Houston where he attended South Texas College of Law. After graduating from South Texas College of Law in 1999, Blackburn began his legal career at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office as an Assistant District Attorney, where he served in multiple District Courts as a felony trial prosecutor. He also served in the Public Integrity Division, where he handled cases and investigations involving public corruption. After leaving the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in 2008, Blackburn worked for the Department of Justice as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas, handling large-scale narcotics offenses, human smuggling, bulk-cash smuggling, firearms, organized crime, and criminal immigration offenses. Blackburn left the United States Attorney’s Office in 2010, to join the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, where he has served as a Chief Prosecutor in multiple District Courts and Chief of the Public Integrity Division before being promoted to Chief of the Trial Bureau. Blackburn is also Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
The Felony Trial Division is responsible for prosecuting felony criminal offenses not handled by the specialized divisions. Felony offenses are serious crimes which are punishable by death or confinement in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (penitentiary or state jail) or by a suspended sentence. Examples of felony offenses are: capital murder; murder; aggravated robbery; sexual assault; sexual offenses against children; injury to a child or an elderly individual; aggravated assault; identity theft; credit and debit card abuse; and certain theft and drug offenses. The Felony Division is staffed by 15 assistant district attorneys, four investigators and five legal assistants.