It's been almost four years since my successful Public Records Lawsuit against Durham District Attorney Satana Deberry in Durham, N.C.
Two hours and twenty minutes after being sued, the DA released her Brady/Giglio favorable evidence policy. This was five months after it was initially requested, and requested many times. There are some good points in the policy. Unfortunately, the policy still isn’t always followed by staff.
It’s the same old problem of prosecutors not looking for evidence they’re constitutionally required to know about. I’m afraid of wrongful convictions.
Is there such a thing as a progressive prosecutor? Being forced to sue mine makes me wonder if it’s a myth.
Not a single news outlet reported on this story when the suit was filed in 2020 despite this being an almost unprecedented event in Durham. The local, state, and national press continue to describe DA Deberry as a progressive prosecutor.
Years later, even with good, conscientious ADAs, I often have to push to get what the Constitution requires. It takes a lot of work to comply with the Constitution.
A progressive prosecutor doesn’t need a public relations staffer. This DA has one. Why doesn't every employee spend their entire workday responding to discovery requests and organizing the administration of the office? Often my phone calls to the DA's office go to voicemail. On a number of my cases, two prosecutors are assigned to one client’s separate charges. That is not efficient.
Efficiency is progressive; public relations is a waste of scarce resources.
Playing favorites and granting sweetheart deals to the clients of her personal lawyer friends in the defense bar is not progressive.
Failing to answer telephone calls or email is not progressive.
Failing to have written policies is not progressive.
Opposing a bond reduction for my indigent client of color when you're offering a probationary plea - in order to squeeze them into pleading guilty when they want a trial - isn't progressive. (The charges were dismissed after the client spent almost three years in jail awaiting trial.)
Running for Attorney General while the Durham District Attorney's Office is in disarray, is not progressive.
Being transparent, organized, and a presence in the office can be accomplished by the elected DA who works in the office, speaking for herself, and establishing enforceable policies that are made public without a lawsuit.
Is the lack of leadership and disorganization the reason so many Assistant D.A.s are leaving the office?
Though I’m rooting for our DA to organize and depoliticize the Durham office, I don't count on that ever happening. I will not be voting for DA Deberry for higher office considering her track record in the Bull City.