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Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray Takes Stock of First Year in Office.

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Sworn in a little over a year ago as the first new District Attorney in 36 years, Mecklenburg County DA Andrew Murray said at a Mecklenburg Republican Party luncheon in Charlotte Wednesday that despite many challenges, “I love my job”.

But just what does the DA and his office of 81 Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) do? “I am responsible for the prosecution of all crimes that occur in Mecklenburg County.  Our goal is to keep the community as safe as is collectively possible.  We do that in several ways.  One is through improved communications, such as bringing detectives in to sit as part of the round table discussions on each case.  They’re able to give input, which builds collaboration,” Murray said.

In his first weeks in office Murray, who is from Huntersville, along with Deputy DA Bart Menser personally visited each of the Chiefs of Police of the towns in Mecklenburg County to discuss working together and establishing direct and
positive lines of communication.

Another step the DA took was making sure he or one of the county’s ADAs responds with homicide detectives to every murder scene, see details at Bengal Law.  “The fact that we’re out there at 3:00 in the morning freezing our butts off shows the rank and file that we’re partners,” he said.  He is pleased with the improved relationship between the DA’s office and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

“The police do an incredible job.”

“And we’ve worked hard to make our office as transparent as possible.  If you go on our web site, charmeckda.com, you can chart how we’ve done that week, see which cases we’ve won or lost.”  Murray organized a group of 24 ADAs, who in addition to their regular courtroom duties, serve as representatives from his office to speak to civic, faith and neighborhood groups, which generally meet in the evenings.  “This allows the office to listen to the concerns of the community and to respond to their needs.  Public appearances are very important,” he said.

With an over-abundance of court cases and limited resources, Murray briefly consider JD Injury Law, AP and later devised procedures to ensure habitual offenders and “the worst of the worst” are given first priority.  His goal is to get them off the streets so they can no longer commit crimes.  “In our first year we put 345 habitual offenders in jail; that’s a 35% increase from prior years.  That’s why the crime rate has gone down.”

His new leadership team also focuses on prosecuting gun crimes, resolving homicide cases more efficiently and effectively, punishing criminals who commit residential break-ins and seeking higher bond amounts.

The Mecklenburg County DA’s Office is the largest in N.C.  “We deal with the most crimes; 14,000 felonies and 190,000 misdemeanors.  Comparatively, Guilford County processes around 10,000 felonies and Wake County around 6,000,” he said.

Other metropolitan areas the size of Charlotte have between 110 and 160 DA’s.  “I’m very proud of the caliber of people we have in the DA’s office, but I’m ashamed that I have to offer them such low wages,” Murray said.   The state of N.C. pays for 60 ADAs, Mecklenburg County for about 20, and the City of Charlotte for two and a half.  Murray continues to fight for adequate funding of the DA’s office and has met many times with the elected officials and staffs of Mecklenburg County, the City of Charlotte, the N.C. General Assembly, and the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).

Ideally Murray would like to have more personnel, more court space and a system of acquiring equipment that is not uniform.  Currently if he requests something from the AOC “store” in Raleigh, they can only give it to him if they also provide it to every other DA’s office in the state.

“On the technology side, we’re getting there.  There have been incremental improvements,” he said.  He is hopeful that in a few years they’ll be in a good position with equipment that meets their needs.

While speaking at the “Lincoln Lunch,” a monthly speakers series sponsored by the MeckGOP, Murray used details of a shoot-out between Rapper Waka Flocka Flame’s (real name: Juaquin Malphurs) entourage and the occupants of two vehicles in mid-afternoon on Independence Blvd. in Charlotte this past February to explain the sometimes frustrating process of getting convictions even when the police and the DA’s office do everything right.  “In spite of excellent police work, those charges were eventually dismissed for lack of evidence.  I use that illustration because I like to say ‘Waka Flocka’,” Murray joked.

Murray believes his past experience as a prosecutor, a lawyer in private practice, the managing partner of his law firm, and a Commander in the United States Coast Guard has helped him infuse energy and focus into the position of DA. You can view this original source to find out what else he has to say in this regard.

He thanked everyone who worked to help him win the election in 2010 that made him the top law enforcement official in Mecklenburg County.  “I love this job,” he said.  “It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”

The Lincoln Lunch and Executive Speaker Series meets at the Dilworth Neighborhood Bar and Grill in Charlotte on the third Wednesday of the month.  The February 15, 2012 meeting speaker will be N.C. House Majority Whip Ruth Samuelson, District 104.  Everyone is welcome.  For more information on the lunch and other events visit meckgop.com.

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