DA hopefuls debate backlog, plea deals

By William F. West

The Daily Advance

3 Comments | Leave a Comment

CURRITUCK — How to deal with a backlog of criminal cases and when to offer plea bargains to criminal defendants continue to be key points of debate in the district attorney’s race, as both incumbent Andrew Womble and challenger Nancy Lamb made their cases to local party activists last week.

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I might add,

the two prosecutors who tried the case on which I was a jury member were both young, but did an excellent job in prosecuting a difficult case in which much of the evidence was inadmissable for various reasons. Interesting to note that Womble recently spoke to 30 Republicans in Currituck while Lamb spoke to 10 Democrats. Maybe there are just not as many Democrats in Currituck as there once were.


One would not be out of line to immediately question the judgment, leadership and continuity planning of someone who adds 4 inexperienced attorneys to any firm and only counts on the 2 senior partners to make it succeed. But before we cast aspersions let's find out the facts.

If the previous management hired them then either they hired good folks or they didn't. If the former then the problem isn't insurmountable. If the latter then they have chosen rotten wood and shame on them.

How many lawyers are there in the DA's office? What percentage of the total do these 4 represent?

What was the case load for the current crowd before the 4 were hired? What is it expected to be once they are "qualified" to solo? What is a reasonable time to qualify? How does one qualify if not in front of a jury? Is there training that can be obtained elsewhere?

What was the mentoring plan for the new hires and to what extent did it include appointing an individual mentor from among the existing staff? Was this plan in operation when the second partner left? Was the new senior partner passed this plan? If not why not?

What contingency plan was there if either or both senior partners were unable to mentor?

In the CG world I grew up in, true leaders made sure that the ship of state would be able to sail on with little difficulty even if they were gone. Short sighted and parochial "leaders" made hay on their watch and didn't really care if the next guy failed. Sometimes they wanted that to happen.

I don't expect answers to my questions but I feel we should all expect more from those who would lead us to a better state.

About two months ago,

I served on a jury where we found the accused guilty of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to cause bodily harm. The victim of the crime had been shot in the neck and has remained paralyzed from the neck down ever since. The significant point is the crime was committed on Feb. 22, 2009! That was over 5 years previous! What happened to the right to a speedy trial? It was lost in the morass of backlog of cases of the previous District Attorney's administration which included Nancy Lamb. The current District Attorney Andrew Womble inherited 1,776 cases when he took the helm of the District Attorney's office. Thank God for Andrew Womble and his staff for diligently bringing the backlog down and getting these cases resolved.

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