The Blount Countian interviewed all candidates
for Blount County district attorney
during the first two weeks of this month.
This is the second in the series of four interviews,
to appear in the paper weekly in
alphabetical order by candidate’s last
name. All responded to a list of common
questions; all were asked two or more questions
unique to their own candidacy.
Pamela Casey: background and personal data
Pamela Casey, 28, was born in Boaz and reared in Snead, where she now resides in the same house where she grew up. She attended Susan Moore High School, graduating as salutatorian. She attended Rhodes College in Memphis, graduating with a bachelor of the arts in political science and history. She attended law school at Seattle University, graduating cum laude
with a doctor of jurisprudence degree.
She is single. Her parents are Donna Casey of Snead and the late Clifford “Glen” Casey of Allgood. Growing up, she attended Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church at Susan Moore. Currently, she is a member of Church of the Highlands in Birmingham.
She was nominated for the 2009 Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in trial advocacy, and is presently a member of the Alabama Republican Party state executive committee. Work experience
Casey began her legal career as a law clerk at Walthhew, Warner, Thompson, Eagan, Kindred & Costello in Seattle, Wash. She served a judicial clerkship at Washington State Superior Court in Seattle. She returned to Alabama as an associate at the Friedman & Downey law firm in Birmingham. She served as adjunct professor of criminal law and juvenile justice at Auburn University – Montgomery, and is currently professor of law at Birmingham School of Law. She is presently employed as an assistant attorney general in the Alabama attorney general’s office in Montgomery.
Casey said she has prosecuted cases in 20 of Alabama’s 41 judicial districts. She has handled murder and capital murder cases before the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, the Alabama Supreme Court, federal district courts, and the United States Supreme Court.
What issues do you think are important in this election and what changes would you make, if elected?
“The most important issue is to restore the relationship between the district attorney’s office with law enforcement and judicial officials within the county. The second is to create a comprehensive approach between law enforcement and the DA’s office to prosecute drug offenders.
“As to changes, I will establish community outreach programs. Specifically, I would start a citizen’s academy to provide information on Internet safety, identity theft prevention, elder abuse, and other topics of interest. I would start a street law program that would meet once a month at each high school to talk about subjects of interest to students and to involve school resource officers into outreach and drug prevention programs at the schools.”
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the DA’s office?
“Restoring public trust and confidence. Also, restoring cooperation with law enforcement and judicial officials. I will restore cooperation with judicial officials by efficient organization and professional behavior in the DA’s office to ensure that our justice system operates as proficiently as possible. I will have an open-door policy for all citizens, including after-hours and weekend office hours if necessary to meet the needs of the county.”
Why do you think you’re the best candidate for the office?
“I am a new direction for Blount County. Criminals don’t like me. I’m tough on crime. I don’t back down. I’m a prosecutor. Blount County deserves a prosecutor as DA, not a defense attorney. No other candidate, regardless of age, can touch the experience I have gained as an assistant attorney general. No other candidate has prosecuted a capital murder case to a jury. I have. No other candidate has stood before a jury asking that the death penalty be imposed. I have. No other candidate has represented the state in criminal actions before both the Alabama and the United States Supreme Court. I have. I prosecute the most difficult criminal cases on a daily basis to juries and judges all over our state. My opponents don’t.”
Criminal justice institutions in Blount County have been arguing for years about setting up an adult drug court. Blount County is one of the few that don’t have this improved method of dealing with drug offenders. What is your opinion of the value of drug court, and would you push for it if elected?
“Drug court won’t solve the problem overnight, but with determination, multi-agency cooperation, and perserverence, drug court can work. There are vast amounts of grant monies available for these programs. Blount County should not stand on the sidelines while the rest of the state progresses.”
Comment on present trends in the state criminal justice system that result in returning nonviolent offenders to the community long before their sentences are served. How will you respond to those trends if elected?
“I have personally toured state prisons, including Holman at Atmore which houses 1000 inmates in a facility built to house 600. It’s this overcrowding that forces Pardons and Parole to release nonviolent offenders almost as soon as they arrive. Community corrections and drug court can help keep nonviolent offenders out of prison while rehabilitating those capable of returning as productive citizens. But we cannot let overcrowding be an excuse for reduced sentences or plea bargains when they are not warranted.”
What’s your opinion of work-release programs? The idea is currently being studied for possible use in Blount County. Are you in favor?
“When Blount County can create a program than ensures accountability on the part of inmates, with proper supervision, and provide appropriate rehabilitation services, I will push for such a program. I would never support workrelease for sex offenders or for those who have committed violent offenses.”
The question has been raised concerning where you actually reside and whether you qualify as a bona fide candidate for office in Blount County. Comment?
“Yes. According to the law, I’m a resident of Blount County. I cannot lose my residency because I work in Montgomery. My driver’s license shows my Snead address as my legal address. I can cite at least a hundred people that can attest to my residence here. You know what this is about? If someone’s afraid of getting beat at the ballot box, the way to do it is to get your opponent’s name off the ballot. My opponents are afraid of me. You don’t attack someone you’re not afraid of.”
You’re 28 years old. Some may question whether that’s old enough to handle the job of district attorney. Also, there’s the question of administrative experience: personnel management, budget management and other administrative aspects, all things that become more difficult during times of economic stress. What makes you think you can handle it?
“First, age doesn’t equal experience. Nor does it equal maturity. Besides, (laughing) I’ll be practically 29 by the time of the primary and well on the way to 30 by the time I would take office in January. I handle the most complex cases this state has. I routinely manage cases that have 30 to 40 people and agencies involved, and I may have 20 cases going on at one time, all over the state. That takes management. On my experience as a prosecutor, nobody can touch me.
“As to administrative aspects, I do my homework. I’ve reviewed the budget for the Blount County DA’s office. (At this point, Casey retrieved some papers from her car, then continued.) I can tell you for example that the total expenditures for the DA’s office for 2008 – 2009 was $679,015. Salaries were $392,385 of that, not including the DA’s salary. Total funds budgeted for 2009-2010 are $894,250. I’ve studied the budget. I was poor growing up. I was on the free and reduced lunch program. I learned how to manage money because I didn’t have a choice, and you’ll see that reflected in how I live my life today.”