Paxton Butler plans to challenge Brandy Cook in 2022 district attorney race – Salisbury Post

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SALISBURY – While walking around the city center with a colleague, Paxton Butler noticed something shiny on the floor.

“As we pulled to a stop, I looked down and at my foot there was a ball on the sidewalk, right here at the corner of Main and Innes (streets),” Butler said.

Although it’s just a shell shell, Butler sees it as a representation of something more.

“I’m worried about where we’ve gotten to where that’s what’s happening to you just walking down the street,” Butler said. “This ball is laying there right now, but if this ball is flying through the air, I don’t know what will happen.”

Butler, 50, said his concern over the crime rate was the reason he left his post as Assistant District Attorney in Rowan County in June after spending nearly a quarter of a century as a criminal prosecutor. Butler, an attorney with the Davis and Davis law firm, has partly resigned his post to prepare to run for district attorney, an elected post that Brandy Cook has held for more than a decade.

“I feel that accountability to the community I live in is the end result,” Butler said. “I know I can make things better.

The general election for the district attorney will not take place until November 2022, but the filing will open on December 6 and the primary election is scheduled for March.

Originally from eastern Tennessee, Butler said he fell in love with Salisbury on his first visit as an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. He was brought to Rowan County by his wife, whose family has lived in the area for decades.

After graduating, Butler returned home to Tennessee to live with his grandmother while he volunteered in a public defender’s office. The experience, he said, ultimately influenced his decision to pursue a career in the courtroom.

“It was a unique perspective and at the time I was like, ‘Wow, I don’t know if I really want to be on this side. It looks like all of our clients have issues that need to be worked out,” Butler said. I was more focused on being a prosecutor because of it. “

When he graduated from the University of Memphis Law School in the late 1990s, Butler returned to North Carolina and landed “right next door” as a district attorney in Iredell County. . Butler said he was pursuing murder trials in superior court in a few years. Over time, Butler took responsibility for prosecuting all pedophilia cases in Iredell and Alexander Counties. With the average prosecution rate in such cases being around 30% statewide, Butler said he had worked with local law enforcement and children’s advocacy organizations to improve.

“During this process, I sat down at the table and brought together law enforcement, the Department of Social Services, and the prosecutor’s office and worked these cases as a team from start to finish. at trial and follow-up thereafter, “Butler said. . “When I left this position, we had a 98% successful prosecution rate. “

Butler also attributed a “proactive approach” to the increase in the number of successful prosecutions for pedophilia cases. It’s an approach he said he would like to implement in Rowan County if elected.

“We, like many other places, take a reactive approach in that we don’t attack these cases until we have a child victim standing in front of us telling us something has happened to them,” said Butler. “I strongly believe that we need to be ahead of this and proactive in the sense that we are tracking down these pedophiles.”

Butler was hired as a Rowan County Assistant District Attorney around 2008 by former Rowan County District Attorney Bill Kenerly. Once in Rowan County, Butler led the prosecution of a number of important cases, including the case against former Catawba football coach Ralph Wager, who is now serving a life sentence for misdemeanors. sexual.

In addition to “shedding light” on predators that “lurk in the dark,” Butler said his top priority as a district attorney would be to build relationships between the office and local law enforcement. .

“It’s so important that law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office work hand in hand and well together,” Butler said.

Having a strong relationship with law enforcement agencies, Butler said, would also help improve accountability.

“I see the elected district attorney as someone who not only protects the community from crime and criminal elements, but as someone who is the last stronghold to protect their constitutional rights,” said Butler. “It starts at the grassroots level to make sure that any application that is made in the community is done correctly. And if it doesn’t, there must be consequences. It must be remedied. “

In the courtroom, Butler said he would focus his energy on prosecuting people who have committed serious and violent crimes.

“You can’t try everything. In fact, we can only judge a very small percentage of cases, ”said Butler. “So we shouldn’t waste our time on the lowest crimes where we could actually rehabilitate someone. Instead, we should focus on those who are lost to us, those people who on the basis of their actions, it is clear that they need to be removed from our society for as long as we can.

Rather than trying first-time offenders who have committed low-class crimes, Butler said he would be interested in offering them deferred prosecutions, which gives them the option of having their charges dismissed after they complete probation, the service community or restitution.

“It gives young people, people who have made a mistake for the first time in their life, an opportunity to set the course of their lives right,” said Butler.

Butler’s other priorities would be an open door policy, mentoring young prosecutors, and working with local leaders and organizations to create a community center that would provide resources for women and children. Giving young families the help they need, Butler said, would help prevent crime in the county in the future.

“At the end of the day, I just don’t want to find any more balls on the sidewalk,” Butler said.


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