DA candidate responds to Editor’s column

Published 7:46 am Thursday, April 24, 2014

To the Editor:

Your thinly veiled advertisement for Ms. Asbell in Monday’s “Tell the Truth” opinion piece reminded me of another 1950’s-era television game show, the popular (yet, as it turned out, thoroughly rigged) Twenty One, which was also the subject of the 1994 film, Quiz Show.

Since most of your “investigation” is based on your candidate’s campaign literature, rather than an actual, impartial interview with both of us, I won’t repeat the rhetoric here.  I would simply ask the following questions:

If you wish to compare the entire track record of each candidate, why stop at three years?  You mention “the entire picture” and “all the available numbers,” so why not bother to actually look at all of them?

In fact, the state has online statistics going back to the 1999-2000 fiscal year (http://www.nccourts.org/Citizens/SRPlanning/Statistics/CaseLoad.asp).  I would encourage anyone interested in the numbers to take a thorough look at the past several years of activity in both districts.

2010-11, the year you and Ms. Asbell hang your hats on, is the only year out of the past five that demonstrates a level of felony trial activity that even comes close to the work product of my office.

Is it really your position that my opponent doesn’t try cases because she and her staff are so good, they don’t have to?  If that’s so, then why has the number of outstanding felony cases been increasing over the past five years under her leadership?  Why was trying these cases a good idea in 2010-11, but not in the two years before or the two years after?

It’s been my experience that actually trying cases—doing the work that I’m paid to do—has been the single most effective tool in reducing the felony backlog for my caseload, as opposed to having it grow year after year.

And speaking of experience, I have two points to make:

1.  It’s not what you can do, it’s what you actually do.  Compare between the districts what’s happened over the past five years.  Are you saying that one year of effort out of five is better than five years of consistent work product?  Being at the job isn’t the same as being on the job.

2. The argument that operating a multi-county district is an automatic advantage is ludicrous. By that logic, the District Attorneys of Pitt, Wake, Durham, or Mecklenburg Counties are less qualified than your candidate because they only deal with “one courthouse, one Clerk of Court, one Sheriff, and [fewer] municipal police departments.”  The number of counties is a non-issue. The fact is, all prosecutorial districts are managed based on their caseload, not on the number of counties. The two current districts have the same number of staff, because they have approximately the same caseload.

If you want to compare track records beyond the numbers, I would invite you and your readers to ask those who work in the court system about their experience with either candidate.  Since you mention the various courthouse personnel each candidate has “dealt with,” why not see what the Clerk, Sheriff, other law enforcement officers, or defense attorneys in any of the four counties have to say?   When making such an important decision about the future of the justice system in our four counties, isn’t it vital to choose a candidate that works well with others in that system?

I’m thankful to have been endorsed by the Northampton County Black Caucus as its choice to lead the new District 6, and I take great personal pride in knowing that several members of the Caucus are fellow professionals within the court system.  Some of these individuals have known my opponent for her entire tenure in the District Attorney’s office, and yet this group selected me as the best choice for the new District, after knowing me for less than one year.

No candidate in any political race is entitled to a citizen’s vote, but there’s no other race in the state where both candidates already have the job.  Wouldn’t your readers have been better served if you had presented accurate and impartial information, from all sources available, and then allowed folks to decide for themselves?

Guess it’s easier to portray as me a liar than to promote constructive debate.

Before making their choice, I invite anyone with any question about my advertising, my track record, or my policies to call me, toll-free, at 877-473-5373 and speak with me personally, or email me at www.districtattorneypelfrey.com.

Melissa D. Pelfrey