The District Attorney's office is the largest law firm in the District (which includes New
Hanover and Pender County). We have 19 Assistant District Attorneys and 25 nonlawyers,
made up of victim witness assistants, investigators and court liaisons for law
enforcement agencies, for a total of 45 dedicated public servants. All of them serve at the
will of the elected District Attorney, which means they can be hired or fired without
cause. The experience among this team is unbelievable--among the lawyers alone, for
example, we have well over 100 combined years of experience prosecuting crime.
We have two primary responsibilities in the District Attorney’s Office: first, to advise local law enforcement, and second, to prosecute every criminal matter in the territorial jurisdictions of both New Hanover and Pender Counties. There are more than 800 sworn law officers in over
20 different state and federal law enforcement agencies who we work with every day.
We employ a police/prosecutor team approach and proactively work with officers during
all of phases of a case. When cases come to trial, we set the calendar and have the
burden of proof in all cases from simple traffic offenses to first degree murder. There are
more than 70,000 traffic offenses and misdemeanors and over 5,000 felonies calendared
each year in the Fifth District. We keep the courts running five days a week.
The Office of District Attorney belongs to the people of New Hanover and Pender
County. Those of us who work in the office understand the importance of getting out
into the community we represent. Every year, we speak to thousands of students at all
levels in our public schools to have a dialogue about choices and consequences before
they have the right to remain silent. We also hold seminars for our senior citizens on
identity theft, fraud and other issues confronting them. We proactively work with area
agencies and groups to confront issues as broad ranging as drug addiction to domestic
violence and sexual assaults, to property offenses. Assistant District Attorneys and
Victim Witness Assistants sit on the boards of charitable and civic organizations that are
too numerous to mention and every person within the office is encouraged to volunteer in
Setting Priorities and Setting the Tone
If everything is a priority then nothing is. Our priority has been, and will continue to be, the prosecution of violent crimes and career criminals. We will always be defined by
the cases we try in front of juries; however, winning murder trials not only gives justice
to victims in those individual cases, it sets the tone for the whole District. When you
consistently win the big cases in front of juries, then the drug dealers, thieves and other
violent offenders line up to plead guilty to their charges. This saves valuable resources
and court time. The truth is, around the state, 98% of all cases result in a plea--a non-jury
disposition in front of a judge. We are no different in this District and with the case
volume we have, it is the only practical way to keep the docket moving.