District Attorney Phil Cline will retire
Phil Cline, who is district attorney for the county he has called home nearly his entire life, announced Monday he is retiring on Dec. 15.
“My wife’s walking around whistling a happy tune,” said Cline, adding he is retiring on the day after his 65th birthday.
Cline will make is retirement official at today’s board of supervisor’s meeting. He will, at the same time, make a recommendation as to who should succeed him as district attorney.
“I’ve got the right people in the right places,” he said of his department which he has headed since 1992. “It’s the right time.”
Cline said most of his counterparts and many whom he worked with the past 20 years have already retired. He said he had been considering retirement for a while.
“They’re all smart, good young people,” he said those in his department today, adding he wanted to be sure the department was left in good hands when he stepped down.
Raised near Farmersville, Cline has spent most of his 34 years in law with the district attorney’s office.
“I started as a law clerk in the DA’s office while still in law school (San Joaquin College of Law),” he said Monday. He spent a short while in private practice before beginning as prosecutor in 1978 and moved up through the ranks from there.
He was named DA to replace Gerald Sevier who was appointed to the Tulare County Superior Court bench. Cline has been re-elected five times.
“I’ve been here for a long time. We’ve been aggressive in prosecuting crime,” he said, explaining his office has been pretty much about average in seeking the death penalty in homicide cases.
There are many things he is proud off accomplishing, including the Bureau of Victim’s Assistance. That unit provides specialized assistance to victims of crime.
Victim’s advocates were employed and trained 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.
He also was instrumental in the creation of the Violent Crimes Division of the DA’s office, the Family Protection Division, the White Collar Crime Division and the Tulare County Veterans Court that provides assistance to veterans who run afoul of the law.
However, he is most proud of the formation of the Rural Crime program.
“I wrote that (program) myself,” said the DA of the past 20 years, saying it came out of a discussion he had with farmers regarding the theft of walnuts and other ag commodities and equipment.
The result of his efforts was the The ACTION project (Agricultural Crime Technology, Information and Operations Network), a conceptual offshoot of the Rural Crime Program, that introduced high technology to the fight against agricultural crime and was used to link each county task force in the Central Valley.
“We were hoping that would last three years,” he said of the effort that began in 1995.
“That is something no other DA has done,” he added proudly.
Calling himself a “home boy,” Cline said he has no plans to move away from the county he has always called home. However, he will have to adjust not going to work every day.
“I’ve not been without a steady job since I was 12 years old,” he said.
Tulare County Board of Supervisors Chairman Allen Ishida noted on Monday the contributions of Cline to the county
*On behalf of the Board of Supervisors, I would like to thank District Attorney Phil Cline for his years of leadership and public service. District Attorney Cline held the position with honor, integrity, and performed at the highest level. We wish him the best upon his retirement.”
Ishida said the Board hopes to make an appointment this month to serve the remainder of the District Attorney’s term in January of 2015.