Transcript: JFP Interview with DA Candidate Michele Purvis | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Transcript: JFP Interview with DA Candidate Michele Purvis

Interview by Adam Lynch

Yes, you may. I am 45.

How long have you been a Jackson resident?
I've been a resident since 1987, when I graduated from law school.

Where'd you move in from?
Mt. Olive, and I'm not a Jackson resident. I live in Clinton. I've lived in Clinton about three years.

Are you married? Got any kids?
I'm married. One child. My daughter, Madison, is 10.

You're smart in that you only had one. ... Tell me about your education.
I graduated from Mt. Olive High School, graduated from Jackson State University and received a degree in political science, and then went on to law school at Ole Miss. Graduated from Ole Miss in 1987.
Where all have you worked? Gimme the high points of your resume.
I started out, in law school, interning with North Mississippi Legal Services. I worked with Alvin Chambliss on the Ayers case. After I graduated from law school I worked full time with North Mississippi Legal Services. I wanted to get closer to home, and the closest office for north Mississippi was in Lexington, in Holmes County. Moved back here and drove to Holmes County every day for about a year, and they had an opening with the legal services offices in Jackson. I worked there until 1991, until I heard they had an opening with the city for an assistant prosecutor. ... I worked my way up and was appointed chief city prosecutor with the city of Jackson, and in 2003 I went to work with the DA's office. Worked there two years and then went back to the city in December of 2005.

What qualifies you to be the county's DA?
I have always been involved with prosecution. When I was not prosecuting I was also involved in counsel to the police department, and I developed good working relationships with law enforcement, and basically spent my entire career doing something I really loved to do. Victims already have a rough time, and if someone is there fighting for them it's very rewarding. That is why I'm running for DA because I think that citizens deserve better than what they're getting right now.
I have some concerns when I was working with the DA's office about victims and how things were handled and it's been a part of my career. I feel like it's time for a change in our district and I just want to do something for the citizens.

Did you ever get a chance to work with the victims while you were with the DA's office?
I did. I spoke with my victims on my cases that I was involved in. When I first got there and I started pulling my cases, one of the first things I did was actually start calling my victims, and it bothered me that the majority of the people I talked to said they'd never heard anything from the district attorney's office. We're talking about cases that are two or three years old. My main concern is that you've already been victimized once by the criminal act committed against you and then not being able to talk to the people who are supposed to be helping you, I found that as a serious concern. ... (My plan) is to start a monthly reporting system for all victims so that they will receive written reports ... on the status of their case.
I take the position that a victim should not have to contact the DA's office. The DA's office ought to be contacting the victim.

What will the monthly reports look like?
It will basically be a form. The first letter they get will let them know the assistant (district attorney's) name and contact information ... and will tell them what the status of their case is.

Are you talking about a mass mail-out every month to everybody doing business with the DA? Get ready for the paperwork and overtime.
I know. It is a lot of paper. We might even be able to do it if the victims have e-mail. It's about opening up a line of communication. They don't really have that. The statutes set out certain crimes where the victims are required to be notified, but I think every victim, regardless of the crime, should be kept informed about their case.

When you were with the city, you served as counsel for the police both times, right?
I did.

What kind of advice do you give them?
When I first started out with the city, we had a very active street-level narcotics unit, so I assisted them with questions that they had about drug cases, and during that time, civil forfeitures were something new. We started doing a lot of those and just general questions that they might've had, I always dealt with those. Also, I taught classes down at the training academy with recruits, dealing with evidence and ... testimony in court, those kinds of things.

Did you ever find yourself butting heads with the county and other agencies when it comes to forfeiture money, because I hear that other agencies really compete in a big, big way.
...Depending on what agency played a role, it's supposed to be shared equally. We didn't deal with that. We dealt with getting the money for them. They handled the rest as to how it was going to be divided. I'm proud to say that, during that time, we instituted a civil forfeiture involving a house on Ash Street. Drugs had been sold out of that home and the police had made probably at least 20 arrests there. We took that case to trial and we won that race, and it went all the way up to the Supreme Court and it was held.

That was in 2000-what?
I have no idea. It's been so long ago I don't know the actual date, but it was early on when I started working with the city.

Whatever happened to the (house) after the city got it?
I don't know if the city did anything with that property. I know we seized the property, but I don't know what happened after that ...

Why did you go to the DA's office? Was the pay better?
The pay was better, but that was not the reason for going. I just enjoy prosecution, and I thought it was a wonderful opportunity, and I enjoyed my time in the DA's office. Prosecution is something I really love doing. Criminal procedure was one of my favorite classes. ... It kind of led me to it.

So it wasn't that the city got on your nerves?
No. I truly enjoyed my time in the city prosecution's office. I've worked with a lot of different administrations ... you run into different problems every day ... and it's a rewarding position if you remember who you're there working for.

How long were you at the DA's office?
Two years.

Uh-huh. I'm not sure the days I went there.

What were your principal cases while you were at the DA's office?
Basically, we were assigned, during that time, to a particular courtroom, and ... even though I was assigned to a particular courtroom I did try cases in other courtrooms. I have tried murder trials, tried robberies, burglaries, aggravated assault, all those cases.

...I think a lot of your cases dealt with drug cases, didn't they?
After I had been there a while, I officiated with some of the drug cases, and that was later in my tenure there. The way the office is set up there is you can be the lead or the co-counsel, and I was the co-counsel that participated in every trial. Some co-counsel do not take a very active role, and then some actually get in there and try cases, and I was one who actually got in there and tried cases.

Why'd you leave the DA? Was the job getting old?
I had worked with (City Attorney) Sarah O'Reilly-Evans a long time. She was with the city before she retired, and she called me and asked me if I would be interested in coming back to the city because they were starting a new administration and she needed some help to try to pull the legal department back together. I made that decision to go back to the city.

What are some of your accomplishments for the city that second time around?
I don't think there's any one thing. I think the most important thing is making sure the citizens see progress and that's what I've always based my career on with public service, making sure that I remember who I represent.

Could we describe your duties as similar to the ones you had the last time you were with the city?
No, it was different. I actually supervised the transactional division, like the day-to-day administration of city government.

Eewww. That doesn't sound any fun at all.
...I would be assigned to particular departments and just assisting in making sure that things were covered with the different departments. ... I did miss prosecution, and I wasn't involved with that very much.

Why do you want to be DA?
I think that we can definitely turn things around in this district, but it's going to take everybody working together, and because of the relationships that I have established since I have been working in prosecution I believe I can get in there and hit the ground running. It bothers me that the criminals right now have absolutely no fear of prosecution or anything being done to them, and until we change that attitude, we're all going to be having a tough time. I think that just working together with law enforcement we can turn things around, and while I've been out campaigning it's clear that there's no real working relationship right now. Everybody's kind of hit and miss, and when something happens it's a lot of finger-pointing going on and I think we should all just sit down and develop a plan to how we want to do things so we can move the district forward.

(You say) the DA's people aren't working with law enforcement like they used to?
Of course, I'm sure it's what the police feel, and when I talk to a lot of the chiefs—and this is not just Jackson—I've talked to chiefs throughout the district, they would like assistance in educating them(selves) on grand juries and what needs to go into a particular case and things of that nature. ... in order to make sure that you have a good case, everyone has to understand what the elements of the crime are and what's needed to make that case, and I think that can be accomplished with training. ... I think a lot of police officers tend to forget that the police report that they write is what we use to subpoena witnesses, and sometimes something as simple as having a bad address or a bad telephone number or no telephone number, those kinds of things. I've read a lot of reports where there was a statement saying a witness saw somebody doing something, but you look up there in the witness block and there's absolutely no information on a witness. It might sound elementary, but we have to do the basics to make sure that we have what we need to prove the case.

So, so far, we can say that the DA's office is not providing the basics?
Based upon my conversations with law enforcement, this is not occurring.

You know what you're walking into at the DA's office in terms of money, right? It's a fixed income, provided by the state. You're basically a retiree on Social Security with, what, 11 ADAs? Might've been 13 once.
Well, I think the Legislature allotted additional slots. I know when I was there, there were nine state slots, but there were some grant positions, and I think it was about 11 ADAs last time I was there.

The Legislature didn't work in some new slots this past time, did they? They didn't tell me.
I'm strictly basing this on different forms and statements from Ms. Peterson, that they had been awarded different slots.

But (legislators) tend to be stingy, is the bottom line. Some legislators from Rankin County and Madison couldn't think less of us, and they don't tend to hand over money when the DA's in their own county are also demanding cash from the same pot.
Of course everybody is trying to get money, and I know money is short, but I think what the real problem is that we've got to make sure that the ones that we have already in the district attorney's office are properly allocating their time and doing what needs to be done. I checked last year's criminal trial docket and in two courtrooms there were four criminal trials all year long in each courtroom. And that, to me, needs to be picked up. We need to have more trials going on. The courtroom that had the most criminal trials, there was actually less than a 50 percent conviction rate. What concerns me even more is that, included in those not guilty were seven directed verdicts.

Seven? I thought it was six.
It's actually seven directed verdicts. A directed verdict means, after prosecution rests, defense just stands up without putting on any evidence whatsoever and says, Your Honor, they have not met their burden. So I think that shows a lack of trial preparation.

You lauded the DA's lack of progress last night (at a community forum) "Last year, in only two courtrooms, only four criminal trials took place, that's in two courtrooms." But you're not trying to say that only four criminal trials took place last year, right?
No, in two particular courtrooms, there were only four criminal trials. And the courtroom that has the largest amount of trial, that's where they had the less than 50 percent conviction rate.

(Judge Breland) Hilburn came on during your term, didn't he?
He was part-time. Now I think they've gotten him there all the time now.

They've given him the fast-track docket of predigested cases that are ready for verdict. ... According to their records they got 38 trials for 2006, 1,488 case dispositions, 933 resolutions by guilty pleas, 236 resolved by revocations, 38 jury trials and 190 remands. We're looking at the same information, right?
What year is that?

2006. These numbers came out of the DA's annual review.
I have a printout of information on cases and their different dispositions, and I know Ms. Peterson has said during her tenure that she has prosecuted over 8,000 cases, but what she has failed to tell the public, is that this includes, remands, it includes plea bargains, it includes not-guilty verdicts and cases placed on an inactive docket. I think that term prosecution is inaccurate because it's actually case disposal and not prosecution, and by no means am I knocking plea bargains. Plea bargains are essential to the system, but once you take the case and you get it indicted you're saying that you have enough evidence to move forth with that case, and for cases just to be summarily dismissed for whatever reason, that's a problem, and for this year alone, there have been over 200 cases that have been dismissed by the DA's office. Some of those charges include murder, rape, statutory rape, gratification of lust, aggravated assault on a police officer, carjackings.

Are you taking into account multiple counts cited against defendants?
Most definitely, but what everyone needs to understand is that separate charges, even if it is listed under the same case number, it's a separate case that has to be pulled. You can be found guilty if you're charged for burglary and auto theft. You can be found guilty of auto theft and not guilty of burglary, so we're talking about separate charges and each element of each separate charge has to be pulled. ... You have to put on evidence for both charges.

More on that. Let's talk more about money. I think you had mentioned something about collecting revenue on legal seizures. Do you think the same process is available for the DA's office?
I know the DA's office can assist with forfeitures. There are limited situations that the money can be used for, but when I talk in terms of forfeitures. One thing that's for sure is that when you hit someone in their pocketbook it makes a difference, and I think that in order to make sure that the criminals understand that we mean business we need to seek every avenue possible to make sure that they pay for the injury that they caused to the public. It's not just a matter of revenue. It's making sure that they're punished for what act they have committed.


I think you mentioned federal money? Have you thought about how to entice more federal money into the office?
That's something we can always look at, but again, I want to make my position clear that I believe if we properly utilize the staff that we already have that we can be able to do the things that need to be done.

You're about to knock your head against a brick wall. Do you have any congressmen or senators you have a close relationship with (regarding grant money)?
I'm not a political person at all. When I got into this race it was just my commitment to the citizens that made me get in. Saying that, I know that you have to develop relationships with politicians to get certain things done and I've never had a problem getting anything done. ... but I have no personal relationship with one.

You mentioned battling the case backlog. I hear the backlog these days is an average of 2,000 cases. Is that what you heard, as well?
I have not heard. And ... I won't give out numbers that could be inaccurate... but I think in order to tackle the backlog that you need to get a workable schedule with the judges, to actually get cases set for trial and move those cases. We have to make sure—and I know the DA is saying that they're actually trying cases that occurred in 2006, but just because they're trying cases from 2006 does not mean that those are the only cases on the docket. They're still cases from 2003. Those cases are still there, and those victims are still waiting for justice. At some point, those cases are going to have to be tackled and the longer you wait to move a case to trial the more difficult it becomes to prove that case. Witnesses' memories fade, people die, people move, officers find other jobs.

How would you drop the caseload? For instance, how do you feel about the court facilitator position? Is he getting the job done? Does there need to be improvement? ...
... I think that could be a position that could be a great benefit, especially when you're talking about pre-trial detainees and who needs to be moved forth in the system. But it is the responsibility of the attorney's office to get cases moving, to move and facilitate the case.

What improvement would you bring to the position? How would you move things faster?
As I just mentioned, with the four courtrooms that had the four trials. One of the things that can be done is to set more cases for trial. Some judges, when they set the criminal docket, the DA or the assistant gets to pick which case goes to trial, but say, for instance, if they set five cases that day, and three of those plead and you start a trial on the day that an individual ends up pleading ... , I think we need to be ready to move forward with another case, not just have all those others that were set continued. We need to hold them open so that we will definitely need to be trying something.

That wasn't the way it was when you were there?
No, when a certain case is set for trial, all the others wind up just getting continued, and they don't hold them over in case something happens, like there's a quick verdict or that particular person pleas during the time that the case has started for trial, so you've lost that time.

How hard would it be to move things forward? There must be lots of paperwork involved in changing that process.
It's not a change in paperwork, because if you go ahead and issue the subpoenas for the cases those individuals will be notified and instead of releasing them, let them know that if this person (ahead of you) pleads out we're moving forth with the next case. Make sure that the judge makes them understand that they are still under subpoena.


... Are you ready to replace (court facilitator) Ken Lewis if you take office?
I'm not going to say I'll replace anybody.

No, I mean will you be ready to replace him if he decides to leave?
Anybody, if they decide to leave, that's their option. We will be ready to replace anyone. What I will do, when I get in, is evaluate all of the positions of the staff and make a decision based on that, but I'm not targeting any individuals...

I got that ... but you came in when Doug Jones was just starting out, right? ... You were there when (the court facilitator's position) was still good and shaky. You saw Doug when he still had tears in his eyes from trying to work the bugs out of the system. ... the court facilitator position supposedly has helped bring the backlog down from 4,000 to the average of 2,000, and Peterson says the system surrounding the facilitator is largely her own intellectual property... Are you ready with a replacement system?
Whatever system that is in place now, regardless of whether or not it stays or goes--my main concern is moving the cases, and that's the responsibility of the district attorney's office, and we will have to get in there, see what is there, see who's in jail, start lining those cases up, if it's plea bargains, whatever that needs to be done, you know, we will evaluate those cases and get them moving.

You said you will better prepare your people for trial. What does that mean?
There are national seminars that are offered to district attorneys ... all of that training is available. And I guess one of the sticking points when I say that, some things are just very basic and generic that you see going on that need to be corrected. As I've said, it just bothers me when you see a big trial occurring and you see a police officer sitting there reading from his report. That's not just a problem with the police officer, that's a problem with the assistant who took that case to trial, because if you've properly put in your time and prepared your case for trial, your witness will know every question you're going to ask. ... There's a difference between refreshing memory and reading every point. ... You cannot just prosecute based on a cold sheet of paper. You've got to get out to the crime scene. You've got to go talk to witnesses. Many witnesses sometimes don't feel comfortable coming to the office and talking to you. A lot of the times they feel better with you coming to them, because they're in a more friendly environment. You have to get out and establish a friendly relationship with your witness.

That sounds suspiciously like it eats up time.
It does, but in order to make sure that you have good prosecution going on, that's something that you have to do. We're committed to putting in that time. It's not a nine-to-five job, and of course all of your time is not tied up in trial, but when it comes time for that trial you've got to go that extra mile regardless of what it takes. You've got to get in there and make sure that case is properly prepared, and that's what I will be expecting. I wouldn't expect any more from anybody that I'm not willing to do.

Tell me more about the training seminars. Peterson rides the fact that she tries to get her ADAs out to as many as possible. Do you agree? Do they accomplish anything?
... There are plenty of sessions available for assistants to attend.

How many did you attend?
During my two years, I attended the state training seminars, and they would normally occur in April and October.

Keeping in mind the 38 jury trials that actually went, I'm looking at a conviction rate of 84 percent coming out of the DA's office. Do you trust that number?
I know that there was less than 50 percent in one particular courtroom, so it's hard for me to imagine that it would actually be 80 percent.

Well, some of these are multiple counts. You got Mr. Willard, I suppose, assaults somebody, kidnaps them and kills them, gets off on some counts, but still serves life plus 40 years for the murder. He's in jail, no matter what. ... Does the statement about the 50 percent not guilty take into account multiple indictments of the same people. Can you trust the 50 percent figure?
Most definitely. Before you leave I'll show you the printout I have so you can see what I'm referring to. Each of those charges has to be proven independently. That is a separate charge.

... But some of the not-guilty verdicts included multiple co-defendants, like those guys in the Wood Street case, where that witness turned and ran.
There were much more than six.


I'm reading a report saying the DA's office got six not-guilty verdicts for an overall conviction rate of 84 percent for 2006. This year only 13 percent of criminal cases were dismissed, often as part of a plea on another charge, or to re-represent the case to a grand jury. ... Do you feel that the (50 percent) statement was intellectually honest, knowing most of these people wind up in jail anyhow? Even if he didn't get convicted for kicking dirt in some guy's face before he stabbed him, he still went to jail for the stabbing.
That's not what the printout shows.

It just seemed like your statement that there were only four cases tried in two courts would leave people thinking only (a handful) of cases went to trial in Hinds County last year.
No, I made it perfectly clear when I said that in two courtrooms, there were only four criminal trials each.

--Purvis refers to a 2006 record showing seven directed verdicts and 25 not-guilty verdicts. She has no spare copy for the reporter--

So, while you were there, how many cases did you take to trial?
You know, I actually do not remember the total number of cases that I tried, but I was involved in a murder trial, an aggravated assault. I remember doing burglary, as couple of aggravated assault charges. I did a drug trial. Of course, all of these were with other assistants. I'm really not sure how many I did, but I did try cases. Miss Peterson was quoted in the Clinton newspaper as saying that she was the only one with felony prosecution experience, and I thought that was interesting since I worked in that office for two years. I knew that I had tried cases while I was there. And, frankly, it was interesting to me for her to say that because I thought to myself if you've got an employee that you allow to sit in that office two years and never try a case, that's a waste of taxpayers' money. That's even more of a reason for people to vote for me.

Peterson says you've tried only two.
That's not true. There were more cases than that. Actually, I've tried at least two aggravated assault, I don't remember the defendant's name, but I do remember I was second chair on this case, but participated very heavily in the trial. A lady and her boyfriend were driving on the interstate and they were arguing and he jerked the steering wheel of the car and they had a child in the back seat and he was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, because when the car flipped she had broken bones and the child's leg was severed.

So when Peterson says you've only taken two cases to trial she's only talking about the cases that you've actually headed.
I don't know what she's talking about, frankly. The other case involved Alphonso Wright. It was interesting how I met him. I was in the lobby and everybody acted like they were afraid to talk to this gentleman. Miss Peterson would not talk to him, and he complained that he had been calling about his case and no one had responded to him. This other gentleman had shot him. It was not my case, but because he was so irate I told him I would go ahead and talk to him because no one else would. I took him into my office and he said that he had been calling about his case, that no one had done anything about his case, and what made it so bad for him was that it had involved a neighbor. ... They had got into a disagreement and the neighbor had shot him. He saw the neighbor every day. He knew the charges had been filed, he'd been indicted but he was still looking at him every day. But nobody would tell him anything. I took that case on and we took that case to trial. Now when I say I, I don't mean just I. We got a guilty verdict, and at the end, the judge sentenced the defendant to a suspended sentence, and of course, Mr. Wright was very disappointed, but at least he had had his day in court. He knew we had done what we could do.
... I participated in another case so much so that I was the one who cross-examined the defendant in that case, so I put my record up against anyone as far as cases I have prosecuted and what I have done, and, again, if Miss Peterson allowed me to sit in that office and prosecute only two cases than that was a waste of taxpayers' money, and the taxpayers can rest assured that when I am elected DA, if I have an ADA that sits there and does not work then they will not be allowed to sit there. ...

What's the proper term for main and co-counsel on a case?
There's one person who's considered lead and then the other one would be second chair ... but sometimes that distinction means nothing based upon what you do on the case. There are some people in that office when they would sit second chair, did nothing but actually sat. But that wasn't the case when I was there. Not only did I deal with cases assigned to my courtroom I also handled cases in other courtrooms and was always willing to assist anybody in any case.

It sounded as if she'd dumped you on drug cases and little else.
I'm sure that is the way she made it sound, but that is absolutely not true.

Peterson also said you passed 44 of your cases off to other ADAs to enter the pleas. What's your response?
For which cases?

Cases that supposedly got passed off to ADAs like Katharine (Pugh) or Dewey (Arthur).
Oh, well, ... now I see what you are asking me. When pleas were conducted, they would be down in Raymond. And it was one of those situations where when an individual would be going to Raymond if you worked out a plea on a certain case so that everybody would not be down in Raymond at the same time, you would handle the plea for them. They would already have the agreement worked out. All you needed to know was what the individual was pleading to and give them information, they would actually go down and do it. On many occasions I would handle pleas for other individuals who could not go down to Raymond on a particular date. You would take their files ... and present that to court, so it was not a matter of dumping off cases on anyone. I've never shirked my responsibility in the district attorney's office. And, again, if all of these things that Peterson alleges are true then I don't see why she kept me on as an employee. I left of my own volition, on my own terms. So to now say that I did not do my job amazes me.

What's your reaction to accusations that Mayor Melton has put you up to run?
...I really do take offense to that because the only thing that I see is that any connection they can make between Frank Melton and me is that I worked under his administration. ... I hate to be limited that way because I've worked under so many administrations. I started with the city back in 1991. I've worked under the Melton administration for less time than I did under any other administration. I've worked under Ditto's administration, under (Harvey) Johnson's administration...but my commitment is not to any particular individual or administration. My commitment is to public service and I have always tried to make sure that I've served the citizens properly. There is absolutely no truth to this allegation that the mayor has put me into running. And it bothers me that the allegation keeps coming up and no one has anything to support that.

Are you ready to deny that the city offered aid to your campaign?
Aid to my campaign?

I've seen (mayor's assistant) Stephanie Parker-Weaver and (Asst. CAO) Carolyn Redd helping you out during press statements.
No, no. You've never seen that.

I have, too. I saw them helping you at a press statement on the steps of the Hinds County District courthouse.
I was off work.

Were they off work?
(Maybe) they took time off. I don't know what they did.

But that was during work hours.
That's up to them how they handle their time. What I'm telling you is that I took off work. They did not assist me in preparing any statement. You've never seen me do any campaigning on city time, when I worked for the city. You've never seen that. I took off, I made my announcements, I went back to work that evening. ... What they do with their time, that's a question that you would have to ask them as to how they handle that. No, the city has not offered me any aid. Stephanie Parker-Weaver and I have been friends since college. I met her when I was at Jackson State. We have always been very close friends. I was from out of town. ... We became very close with the family. When me and my sister didn't want to go home for the weekend we oftentimes stayed at her house and she would sometimes go home with me and stay at my house. Our relationship goes much, much further back than the Melton administration...she stood with me as a friend. Carolyn Redd, I met her in the Melton administration. If she supports me, I think that's wonderful. It's not an issue of the mayor doing anything. These people are individuals who make their own decision. Just because someone works for an administration doesn't mean that that administration rules their life.

You don't see any ethical issue with city employees helping you during city work hours?
No one helped me during work hours. I'm telling you that I took off--

Because they took off during work hours?
That's something you need to talk to them about. If they were not on city time, no, I do not see a problem with that.

It would seem that if the mayor stood against it, he would not approve them taking off to help this county campaign.
Well, I don't think it's a matter of helping me campaign. They were there for the announcement and as far as their time is concerned, that's something you'll have to address with them because I don't know how they put in their time or what they did, but I know what I did was to take off time to do it. I accrued vacation. I accrued sick leave and as long as I followed the proper procedure in taking off that time that is my leave. That's like if I wanted to take a vacation day. What I want to do in my own time is up to me.

Can you say that you would not grant the mayor any sanctuary if the sheriff presented to you a reasonable case before a grand jury?
What I will tell you, is that with the mayor or anyone, I will do my job when elected district attorney. Any case that is brought to that office that has sufficient evidence to move forward to a grand jury will be presented. This is not an issue about the mayor. It is about what's right and what's done for everyone. The mayor will be in no better or worse position than any other citizen in this district. I will operate fairly and with integrity.

Consider the Ridgeway Street incident. You've been asked this before, but what would you do if the same evidence placed before Peterson was placed before you. Would you have taken the case before a grand jury?
My answer is still the same. Because I was not privy to the actual evidence presented to Miss Peterson--

But you'd have what we all had: multiple witness accounts and a destroyed house.
Let me just say this again. I was not privy to that evidence. I, by no means, am trying to second guess what decisions she made in that case. A lot of time, there's evidence that's presented that people might not ever hear, so that's why I don't feel like I'm in a position to say, because there could have been more that was presented than you or I know. Which could have made a difference.

Something to counter the words of at least 10 witnesses?
No, no, no. You're misunderstanding what I'm saying. There could have been additional evidence presented to the grand jury that was not allowed at trial that Miss Peterson based her decision to move the case before a grand jury.

You mean an alibi? That's one hell of an alibi.
I'm not talking about defense of Melton. I'm talking about to bring forth charges, because the jury made the decision, not guilty, but what I'm saying is the evidence presented by Miss Peterson may not have been all the evidence that was presented at trial ... that's why I don't feel comfortable saying one way or the other. I base all my decisions on the facts of the case. If the sheriff's department or any other law enforcement agency brings forth a case to that district attorney's office to be evaluated, we will look at the evidence and the facts as presented. We will look at the statutory requirements and the elements of the crime and make a decision to move forward to the grand jury. If we believe there is sufficient evidence to move forth I pledge to the citizens of this district that I will do my duty regardless of who the defendant is.

So you won't hesitate, then?
I have stated my position. We will make our decision based upon the evidence, regardless of who the defendant is.

Previous Comments


Stephanie Parker Weaver is helping her campaign because they both came to my house and I wouldn't let them put the sign in my yard. They were saying negative things about Robert and Faye.


Goodness, Adam. You asked some really tough questions. I'm surprised that she didn't go all Laila Ali on you. BTW, what is this printout she keeps referring to? Can you get a PDF of it and whatever you were reading from?


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