Each month, the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office highlights one of our standout prosecutors. It is an honor to introduce you to our final ADA spotlight of the year, Chief Assistant District Attorney Deborah Tillman. Chief ADA Tillman has been with our office for almost 25 years. Before beginning her career with MCDA, she served our country as a Judge Advocate for the United States Military Air Force and as a Captain (JAG) Honorable Discharge. When she is not working on behalf of victims of crime, she enjoys traveling, spending time along the Gulf Coast and Smith Lake, gardening, and hanging out with her nieces and nephews. She has served as a Reading Buddy through the Mobile Education Foundation, volunteered with Camp-Rap-A-Hope which provides free fun for children who have or have had cancer, and is on the Spring Hill College Sports Hall of Fame Committee. Mobile County is a better place because of Deborah’s commitment to doing the right thing. Even though Deborah will be retiring at the end of the year, we look forward to her facilitating the Mobile County Grand Jury part-time.
What is your favorite thing about living on the Gulf Coast?
Excluding this past 2020 Hurricane Season, my favorite thing about living on the Gulf Coast is the Gulf Coast itself, especially April, October, and November.
What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?
My favorite thing to do outside of the office is traveling, spending time along the Gulf Coast and Smith Lake, gardening, and hanging out with my nieces and nephews
Hobbies/ Sports/ Pastimes?
I enjoy watching all types of sports. I especially enjoy seeing how many young ladies now compete in sports and see how strong women’s athletics have become at the college level. Also, I am a recovering Auburn Football Fan.
What is the most important thing in your life?
Faith, Family and the Pursuit of Justice
Has there been anyone who has influenced you personally or professionally?
Professionally: I have worked with several wonderful talented people both attorneys and support personnel throughout my career. This type of work takes a total team effort and I am grateful to each one of them for their support.
Personally: A Mother and Father who set an example of love discipline and work ethic. My Father told me I could be anything I wanted to be and I believed him. My Mother expected the very very best at school and home out of me and my siblings and we knew there were consequences for not meeting those expectations. I am grateful to have been raised in that type of household.
What drives you? What motivates you to come to work each day?
The ability to attempt to deliver justice every day for crime victims and the opportunity to prevent crime and keep people out of the criminal justice system. We do not need the business.
Advice to someone seeking a career with the criminal justice system?
Participate in an internship program. Nothing in school can prepare you more than an internship. This would apply to anyone wanting to work in Law Enforcement, Corrections, or the District Attorney’s Office.
What is the toughest case you have worked on?
There have been many difficult cases and each case always brings its own set of challenges. I remember every victim, their families, and the locations. But one of the most difficult was a man who raped a woman on Government Street while she was out jogging. There was a misidentification and the wrong man was arrested. I was assigned the case by my Chief ADA Nicki Patterson after the correct defendant was arrested based on DNA. It was the first case tried in Mobile based strictly on DNA. The first trial ended in a mistrial the jury could not reach a decision. The second trial ended in a guilty verdict. During the first trial and the second trial, the Alabama legislature changed the habitual offender law which meant this defendant could possibly get a life sentence rather than life WITHOUT parole. I decided to use something new called POWERPOINT to show now Retired Judge John Lockett all the crimes this defendant had committed in our community. I think it was the first time PowerPoint was used in our Court System. Fortunately, Judge Lockett agreed with our position and he sentenced this defendant to Life Without Parole.
If you could pick one thing to change within our legal system what would it be?
BONDS: Who gets a BOND and the BOND Amounts. If arrested on a felony offense, there should be no pre-set bonds at the jail every person should have to see a Judge. If arrested for a CLASS A violent felony or on probation BOND should not be an option. I would also like to see more resources allocated for law enforcement and the Court to immediately upon arrest send defendants to Drug rehabilitation and/or mental health treatment if that is warranted.
What do you plan to do after retirement?
I am going to continue to work part-time for MCDA but I intend to do MORE of my favorite things, travel, beach, lake, and family