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Allen says leadership will improve DA's office

Lee Allen

Lee Allen

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Lee Allen wants to bring his legal and leadership experience from the U.S. Army JAG Corps and his many years of practicing law to the office of Pitt County District Attorney.

Allen, who served as an assistant district attorney in the office from 1994-2001, is one of two Republicans seeking to replace current District Attorney Kimberly Robb in the May 8 primary. Robb is not seeking re-election. The winners of the Republican and Democratic primaries for the post will face off in November.

Allen has been practicing law for more than 26 years, beginning his career under Pitt County District Attorney Tom Haigwood. He went on to the private sector, ultimately to practice family law with Colombo and Kitchin. As an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves he completed his U.S. Judge Advocate General Corps Officer basic and advanced courses. He was mobilized and served on active duty as a JAG officer in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I know how to try cases and I will try cases,” Allen said during a recent interview with The Daily Reflector. “Criminal matters are serious and it's not a game. Individuals need to be given individual attention. I will bring the change that's necessary.”

Allen is a 1989 graduate of East Carolina University where he earned a bachelor’s degree. He completed law school at Wake Forest University in 1992. (Click here for his website. Click here for his Facebook page.)

During his interview with The Daily Reflector, he discussed the role of district attorney and addressed his priorities if elected to the office.

District attorney’s role

“The role of the district attorney is to represent the people of the state in criminal cases. It is the person in whom the county invests the confidence to handle all criminal matters in the courtroom. He or she provides leadership to that office, to law enforcement and to the public in the ongoing war on crime.” 

“There should not be personal considerations to what cases get tried or who the lawyer is or anything like that. There needs to be a standard, an atmosphere, if you will, a tone of professionalism from the top down. Cases need to be tried with the goal of seeking justice and truth. Any DA has an extra ethical obligation under the North Carolina rules of professional responsibility.”

Courtroom efficiency 

“Cases are not being tried. Courtrooms are empty. There are on average, 300-350 per day in the Pitt County Detention Center awaiting trial at a cost of $77 per person per day. That's over $23,000 a day. It's unfair to the people of this county. We're gonna try cases and we're going to try the right cases. We're going to focus on serious cases. Violence, guns, drugs, home invasions. In 2017, not a single habitual felon was tried in this county.

“Our jail is full. It's unfair to victims. It's unfair to law enforcement and it's unfair to the people of this county and I will fix that.

“I want voters to know the resources are there. What that office needs and what I will provide is the leadership to utilize and focus those resources where they ought to be and to try cases and to use the time and the space and the people that we have in order to do something about the crime that we see and read and hear about every day.”

Drug, mental health courts

“You cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem. I'm talking about focusing on traffickers and suppliers and people that bring that poison into our streets and provide it to our children. You take out those folks and you punish them as the law allows. The law has some pretty stiff penalties for those who traffic drugs. Right now, all too often, trafficking cases are broken down to a lesser offense without that substantial penalty.”

Traffic crashes in Greenville

“We have a traffic problem in this county. Pitt County is the number one county in the state for per capita accident rate. The city of Greenville is number one in the state per capita for accident rates. We need to do something about that. Getting a traffic ticket doesn't make you a bad person, but we need to do something to change the attitudes and driving habits of people in this county. You should not have to take your life in your hands driving up and down the roads and streets and highways of Pitt County.”

“That's where leadership can be critical. The DA can meet with chiefs of police, various agencies in this county and come up with some plan to address that. Frankly, it means writing more tickets and those tickets need to be handled in an appropriate manner so that we can get folks attention. When I speak to police chiefs and just plain ole folks, they tell me they worry about violence and they worry about traffic. That's the people screaming out for help.”

Mentorship for assistant district attorneys

“My opponent talks about his experience. We don’t need more of the same experience. There's a lack of experience with the assistant DAs who are in the trenches. It's not their fault, but there are no standards being set, there is no progression. There's no pathway.”

“They need to move along in the District Courts and learn how to try cases and then be given lower level cases in Superior Courts and learn how to pick juries. Leadership requires that. You don’t let somebody who has practiced law for four or five months go to Superior Court and try a sex case. You plant the seed and it's not fair to the people of this county.”

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com and 329-9566.

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