After over five years of legal maneuvering, today I am announcing that the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office and the Mobile County Commission have reached a settlement. The agreement almost mirrors the initial settlement offer made by the District Attorney at the beginning of the dispute in 2010. We at the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office can finally move forward focusing on our mission statement instead of having to sue the County to step up and support our efforts to prosecute criminals.
While we applaud this settlement, it is only a first step in ensuring that our office has the tools needed to protect the people of Mobile. We have seen a nearly 30% budget cut since 2010 despite an increase in demand on our prosecutors.
We are very thankful to Commissioners Carl and Ludgood for their willingness to approve this settlement. Today we have fewer prosecutors in courtrooms than we did 10 years ago despite an increase in violent crimes and more demand on our staff. I will continue to make the case that we need to do more to make sure that every victim of crime in Mobile gets the justice they deserve.
When I was elected to be your Mobile County District Attorney, I pledged to stand up for victims and to prosecute crime. I had inscribed over the entrance and exit to the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office the words “Have you served the citizens of Mobile County Today?” to be a constant reminder to all of our employees to support our mission statement of Vigorously Prosecuting Crime, Deliver Justice for All Victims, Support Law Enforcement in Seeking the Truth and Aggressively Working to Prevent Crime.
Shortly after becoming the District Attorney I learned what a challenging job it is to fund the District Attorney Office in order to achieve this mission statement. Frankly, fighting crime requires money. Due to decreases in funding from the State of Alabama and decreases in enforcement of payment of fines fees and court costs, I reached out to Mobile County in an effort to increase the amount of funding provided to the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office. This request was made in accordance with two local statutes that require Mobile County to assist with funding the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office.
Unfortunately, that request was denied by the Mobile County Commission. In 2012, after repeated unheard pleas for help, with no other options available, the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office sued the Mobile County Commission over our funding situation. The District Attorney’s Office received a favorable ruling Circuit Court of Mobile County and the County appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court. In March of 2016, the Alabama Supreme Court also ruled in favor of the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office. The County promptly appealed the Alabama Supreme Court Decision and again the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in favor of the District Attorney’s Office.
During the five years that this case has been tied up in litigation, the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office overall budget has been cut by 28 percent. Crime is at an all time high with a 25% increase in the number of felony crimes and a 45% increase in homicides AND we anticipate additional revenue cuts in the future.
Although it will not solve all of our funding issues, this settlement will assist the Mobile County District Attorneys Office with retaining, training and recruiting the BEST possible team of lawyers and support personnel who will continue to seek the truth and to fight every day for justice for all crime victims. This is what the people of Mobile County deserve. As Mobile County District Attorney I will never stop fighting for this office to have the resources necessary to prosecute and hold criminals responsible for the crimes they commit.