McAliley talks about new job as DA
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 25, 2003
&uot;Being a DA is not something I ever planned on doing,&uot; Gary McAliley told the Troy Rotary Club Tuesday afternoon.
McAliley retired from his position as a circuit judge in late December to become the district attorney for the 12th circuit of Alabama, becoming the first statewide figure to make such a move in Alabama's history, he said.
&uot;I took about a $14,000 cut in pay,&uot; he said, but emphasized that the transition from behind the bench to prosecutor for Pike and Coffee Counties has been worthwhile.
McAliley said he took the job to clean up the office, listing a string of questionable financial moves made under the administration of McAliley's predecessor, Mark Fuller, who took a federal judgeship in Montgomery.
Among the deeds that compelled McAliley to take the DA's position: a controversial pay raise for investigator Bruce DeVane, the purchase of a brand new Yukon SUV, acquisition of a $3,000 couch for the DA's office and the purchase of several expensive pieces of art.
However, McAliley didn't stop with cleaning up the books of the DA's office. He pared down the docket of backlogged cases, substantially cutting into the approximately 150 defendants awaiting resolution of their cases.
His main strategy for cleaning up the docket, McAliley said, is scheduling meetings with defense attorneys and proposing deals for non-violent offenders. If the defendants accept the bargain, punishments may be substantially curtailed. If not, stiff penalties could result if a conviction is obtained - something that has come easily to the DA's office since McAliley took over. Few defendants have been successful to date in pleading not guilty against prosecutorial teams based in McAliley's office.
Violent offenders will not get such offers, McAliley said.
&uot;You're going to start seeing a lot more trials for violent offenders in this area,&uot; he said. &uot;Juries need to be making those decisions.&uot;
For non-violent offenders, McAliley said he would like to see more alternative sentencing procedures used. He spoke favorably about community corrections programs which would keep non-violent offenders out of crowded prison facilities and said Pike County may soon see electronic leg bracelets used to track and monitor convicted criminals.
McAliley also told Rotarians about the important work conducted by the DA's office in the area of collecting child support and in enforcing bad check prosecutions. He called Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas &uot;the best I've ever seen,&uot; and had high praise for Pike County law enforcement and criminal justice personnel.
On April 10, McAliley said, a new restitution and recovery program should be launched, improving the efforts to secure monetary reparations for victims of crimes.