Your District Attorney working for you.

By: Andy Womble

On November 22, 2013, I was appointed by Governor Pat McCrory as District Attorney for the First Judicial District.  Since taking the reins as District Attorney, one of my primary goals has been to reduce the average age of felony cases pending for trial. (Average time for felony disposition is over one year) The three main advantages to reducing the age of cases for our judicial system are (1) lessening victim impact; (2) improved evidence retention; and (3) more judicious use of resources.

Victims of crime are the innocent bystanders of our judicial system. Crime victims have been adversely impacted by someone else’s actions, often the conduct of a complete stranger who has violated their sanctity of life.  The leading complaint cited by crime victims is uncertainty surrounding the judicial process. As a criminal case moves through the system the length of time to resolve it contributes to a heightened sense of uncertainty.  Reducing delay brings closure to victims and their families and eases anxiety over the process.  It will be the principle role of the District Attorney’s Office under my leadership to advocate for the victims and provide them a strong voice within the judicial system.

As recent cases have demonstrated, evidence in a criminal case can spoil over time.   (See State v. Davis, Pasquotank County, there our office negotiated a reduced plea because of the age of the case and its impact on our available evidence.)  As time passes, witnesses become impossible to locate and are therefore unavailable as they are increasingly mobile after the date of the crime. Recollections fade and are subject to increased scrutiny as case age increases.  As any good trial attorney will tell you, a case is only as good as the evidence presented and the mere fact that someone has been charged does not constitute evidence.  In every case, a prosecutor must present strong and sufficient evidence that the defendant committed the crime alleged and that evidence must be in the form of witness testimony, exhibits and tangible articles from the crime scene.  Reducing the delay from the date of the crime to the date of the trial enhances the prosecutor's ability to present evidence that is strong, convincing and untainted.

Finally, reducing delay allows the District Attorney’s Office to make a better allocation of limited resources.  Each case handled by our office must be evaluated independently and separately with an eye toward an ultimate resolution.  Every case is unique, and while it may not have a readily identifiable victim, justice demands an individualized evaluation rather than a cookie cutter approach.  Delay in the process results in cases being resolved by offense class characteristics rather than individual merits.  By reducing the age of cases, the District Attorney’s Office can devote the necessary time and effort that each case demands.  Reducing the age of cases further ensures that we are able to be flexible with criminal matters which result in a trial by jury rather than by plea agreement.  Our office intends to try more of the crimes of violence and inter-personal crimes and give these victims (and society in general) their collective voice in court.  Emphasizing violent crimes and crimes involving personal and societal safety becomes a priority, thus making our community a safer and more enjoyable place to live, work and raise a family. 

"The Albemarle Tradewinds invited candidate Nancy Lamb for DA to submit an article. Albemarle Tradewinds was informed by her campaign manager Nancy Lamb will submit articles in the coming months"

Your District Attorney working for you. Your District Attorney working for you. Reviewed by kensunm on 4:32:00 PM Rating: 5

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