ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. - For the second time in less than a year, Rockingham County needs a new district attorney.
Interim D.A. Tom Keith announced he’s resigning, once the county finds a replacement. He took over last March, when then District Attorney Craig Blitzer stepped down during an SBI investigation.
Now, the search is on for the new D.A.
He’s held the position since March of last year. Almost every work day, he’s driven to and from his home in Forsyth County, up to the Rockingham County Courthouse, after Governor Roy Cooper called him to come out of retirement to fulfill the interim role.
After the Blitzer scandal, Keith says the D.A.'s office is back on track. He says there are fewer people in jail awaiting trial, and more habitual felons now in prison. The office also uncovered mistakes Blitzer made when he was there, by incorrectly charging Mickey Snow and three others.
“There’s a substantial likelihood that the crimes for which they were convicted or not supported by the evidence,” Keith said, “We probably need to look at all of the cases that Blitzer did in the period he was D.A. so that we can tell the community that we have looked at all of them, and everything else was OK, so there's some integrity they have some faith in the court system here.”
But, Keith has a bone to pick with the Courts. For months - he says he asked if he could be paid for the travel he goes through daily. He says he didn't get a response until mid-January, saying he wouldn't get reimbursed.
“I'm not complaining about not getting my money, I am complaining that they took six months for them to return a phone call and tell me my interpretation of the law is wrong,” he said.
On January 22, he decided he was done, and submit his resignation. Keith will stay until there's a replacement, then, head back to retirement.
“It’s a good place to be a DA, they have all the bells and whistles, and they have the right attitude,” Keith said, “But I just don't like being jerked around.”
The communication director for the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts said the law is clear for district attorneys, reimbursement for travel does not include commuting from home to the office. She states, “District Attorney Keith is a dedicated public servant who stepped into a difficult situation during a time of need. He has served the people of Rockingham County well. But he accepted this appointment knowing how far the office was from his house.”
The governor will have to appoint someone else to serve as interim district attorney to fill Keith’s position. The position will then be on the ballot this November. The filing period starts next week.
See previous stories below on Former Rockingham County District Attorneys
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