Get to know them
Published 12:00 am Monday, May 17, 2004
Following are the responses of Greg Griggers to questions asked by The Demopolis Times. Griggers was appointed District Attorney in 2003 by former Gov. Don Siegelman after the retirement of Nathan Watkins. Before that, Griggers served as an Assistant District Attorney from 2000-2003.
What is the most important part of the district attorney’s job?
“You absolutely must be an effective prosecutor and litigator,” Griggers said. “You have to be able to walk in a courtroom, strike a jury against a defense attorney, and win the case. You cannot be scared of going to trial.”
To Griggers, earning the respect of opposing attorneys may be the most important aspect of the job.
“Being able to put together your case is important, but I’m able to get a lot of cases resolved because the lawyers I deal with know that if I’ve got the case, I’m not going to lose it.”
How do you decide between prosecuting a criminal and accepting a plea agreement?
“If I had my way, I’d plead them all,” Griggers said. “I’d plead them all if they would all take the sentence I recommended for them.”
Most times, that scenario doesn’t play out with defense attorneys, though.
“What you end up with, is that not all of them are going to agree with the sentence you suggest,” he said. “So, a case involving physical injury, like a serious assault — with a crime against a person, you’re not only concerned with the victim. You’re concerned with the general public. In that case, sometimes it’s better to put that person away.”
Do you represent individual victims or the entire public?
“You have to keep a good balance,” Griggers said. “You’re representing the victim’s rights versus what the right thing to do is. In a murder case, for instance, you’re really representing the family members of the deceased.”
Griggers gave an example of an 18-year-old who sexually assaulted an 11-year-old.
“It’s a horrible situation, but if the guy is going to do something like that to an 11-year-old, you can’t help but think the individual has a problem,” he said. “Maybe the family of the 11-year-old doesn’t want him prosecuted, but this goes beyond your family. If this guy walks, he might do it next week with the next 11-year-old he sees.
“You have to put the interest of the people ahead of the interest of the victim sometimes,” Griggers said.
Describe your relationship with law enforcement. What should it be?
“It’s all about communication,” Griggers said. “They’ve got their job and I’ve got mine. Together, though, our job is to keep the community safe.”
Griggers believes he has built a good relationship with law enforcement in the area.
“Being from Marengo County, that was natural. And with our office in Livingston, I’ve worked very close with Sumter County,” he said. “If there’s one thing I’d like to do, I’d like to build on my relationship with Greene County. We work well together, but I’d like it to improve.”
Having open communication is so important to Griggers because a district attorney holds the ultimate responsibility of carrying out the work already done by law enforcement.
“We’ve got to discuss arrests they’ve made, and discuss with them what I’m going to do with the cases once they go to trial,” he said. “I can say with a lot of confidence that there are few times I haven’t been able to communicate with them.”
But Griggers believes the responsibility to carry out the work of law enforcement rests solely on his shoulders.
“My job is to prosecute cases,” he said. “And when [members of law enforcement] sit in a courtroom and see you prosecute, you must communicate to the court what they’re thinking and know. They’ve got to have confidence that you know what they want.”