ADDRESS: North Carolina Prosecutorial District 20A, P.O. Box 1241, Albemarle (28002)
FAMILY: Wife and two sons
Since July 1, 2006, the District Attorney’s Office has disposed of over 17,000 Superior Court cases including 50 homicides and over 7000 criminal defendants; nearly 2000 of those where in jail. Currently, we have 635 total cases pending in Superior Court. Despite being in the top half of districts in the number of cases filed in Superior Court, we disposed of cases faster than the state median. The state median age for felonies in Superior Court is 181 days, ours is 173 days. The state median age for misdemeanors in Superior Court is 155 days, ours is 135 days.
When I was assigned to Richmond County in 1995 as an assistant district attorney, we had 35 pending homicides. Today, Richmond County prosecutors are responsible for 19 homicides, with 11 being arrested in the last 12 months.
Combating crime in Richmond County requires a proactive approach. Our Domestic Violence Program has become a model across North Carolina, and has helped reduce our pending domestic violence homicides by 50 percent since 1995. This program focuses on preventing homicides before they occur through evidence collection, collaboration and training between community and law enforcement agencies to bring strong cases against abusers.
I plan to establish a Cold Case Task Force that uses modern forensic techniques to review our district’s 31 unsolved homicides including the 19 from Richmond County.
Gangs are increasing their foothold in rural North Carolina, including our district. Gangs bring violence, drugs and murder. I have hired a veteran gang prosecutor who will work to address these issues on a community, state and federal level during the next four years. Although understaffed due to the hiring slow down, we must target repeat offenders and drug dealers and build stronger cases to remove them from the street.
Finally, modern prosecutors must work to build stronger cases and be prepared to defend convictions for years to come. It is not about making an arrest; it is about making a case that will stand up in court. Working with law enforcement to improve their skills in investigations and their understanding of the law will make better cases and will result in stronger sentences for criminal offenders. Each of the candidates for Sheriff has indicated a desire to improve officer performance through education and communication. I stand ready to work with the next Richmond County Sheriff to better serve our citizens and victims, making our community safer.
CAMPAIGN ADDRESS: P.O. Box 2769, Rockingham; www.reecesaunders.com.
EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE: I was born and raised in Richmond County and attended our public schools. After graduating from Wake Forest Law School, I began the practice of law in 1977. I was appointed District Court Judge in 1983 and after being elected, I was a Judge until 1986. I then returned to private practice.
FAMILY: I am married to the former Melanie Carroll, a Hamlet native and my current law partner. My two daughters, Claire and Laurel, are both graduates of North Carolina State, and our son Michael attends Rockingham Middle School. We are active members of First United Methodist Church.
By law, the District Attorney is required to (1) prepare criminal dockets, (2) prosecute in a timely manner criminal actions and infractions, (3) advise law enforcement officers and (4) work with the Attorney General on matters of appeal.
Our current District Attorney is not fulfilling these requirements. He rarely enters the courtroom and rarely tries cases in our three counties. He frequently is out-of-state, or out of our district, teaching seminars, but neglecting matters here at home. The criminal dockets are unrealistically large and cases are not timely in their prosecution. Defendants are frequently re-arrested before their first case is disposed of. I invite you to ask court personnel or attorneys about these matters.
The public will not have difficulty locating me. I have 33 years of trial experience, and I can be found in the courtroom serving you as a “hands-on” District Attorney. I will utilize a full week of court and not stop court two or three days early. I will cooperate with law enforcement officers, requiring their input in order to dispose of cases properly. I will be accessible to law enforcement, attorneys and to the general public. I will treat criminal defendants fairly but firmly, especially for repeat offenders.
The citizens of our district can count on me to lead the District Attorney’s office by example and in person.