DA: transition has been smooth

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Black Belt’s newest DA says he’s settling into his new digs just fine, thank you very much.

Michael Jackson, District Attorney for Perry, Hale, Dallas, and two other Black Belt counties, was sworn in as DA January 18. He says that despite his relative newness in the position, his first two months have been filled with plenty of successes.

“I’m sticking to the promises I made in my campaign,” Jackson said in a recent interview. “We are cracking down on the violent offenders. On most, or all of our dockets, really. We’ve taken care of a lot of cases.”

Email newsletter signup

Jackson says his most significant accomplishment since taking office is the progress made in bringing cases to a close that should have been finished long ago.

“We’re working a lot,” he said. “We’ve got a long backlog of cases, some of which have been sitting around for four years. We’ve really concentrated on that the last few months. We’ve sent away a lot of people, for a lot of violent crimes, like rape, robbery, and murder.”

Jackson says resolving these older cases and helping the DA’s office “catch up” on its workload is an especially satisfying aspect of the job.

“We recently took care of one violent case, a tragic case that had sat around since 2003,” Jackson said, and involved a senseless shooting. “We got a conviction on robbery and assault and sent him away for 20 years.”

These types of cases aren’t limited to one area, Jackson notes, citing one backlogged case involving a Perry County robbery. Jackson’s biggest upcoming challenge, though, is the glut of capital cases his office must deal with in the coming months.

“We had a rash of murders in Dallas County right before I got in,” he says, referring to Jackson’s home county which saw a 300 percent spike in murders in 2003. “We’ll be dealing with that primarily over these next few months.”

Jackson said that, to this point, things have either gone as anticipated for him or have even provided him with a pleasant surprise.

“It’s pretty much gone the way I expected,” he said. “If anything’s surprised me, it’s that we’ve been fortunate in that we haven’t had to go trial as much. We’ve had a lot of cases end with pleas. We had one defendant who pled guilty right before we were going to strike the jury. So I guess we’ve been fortunate in that regard.”

As long as things continue this smoothly for Jackson’s crackdown on violence, it’s safe to say that the residents of Jackson’s district might consider themselves fortunate as well.