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Governor's Power Will Keep Durham DA on Job, Despite State Law

Posted September 11, 2007

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— Gov. Mike Easley's appointee as Durham district attorney can stay in the job even though the appointment seems to violate a recent state law about who can be named to elective offices, a spokeswoman for the governor said Tuesday.

Easley, on Aug. 19, signed the legislation, which states nobody can be appointed to fill a vacancy in any elected office without being qualified to vote for that office.

District Attorney David Saacks, who lives in Cary, took the oath of office Friday after Easley appointed him to fill the position left vacant by former prosecutor Mike Nifong's suspension and, later, his resignation.

Sondra Artis, a spokeswoman for the governor's office, said Saacks' appointment is not in jeopardy and that the governor's power, given to him by the State Constitution, take precedence over the legislation.

Easley appointed the 15-year veteran prosecutor, who served as the chief assistant district attorney under Nifong, after more than two months of speculation about who would take the helm and help restore public confidence in the office following Nifong's mishandling of a case involving three members of the Duke University 2006 men's lacrosse team.

Some in Durham’s legal circles praised Easley’s decision, calling it "a logical and smart choice" and describing Saacks as fair, ethical and honest.

Saacks, who will serve as district attorney until the 2008 election, when a new district attorney will be elected, said last week he has no intention to move to Durham and run for the post next year.

"I put myself in a position to be doing this, at this point," he said. "And I'm willing to do it to help out and get us through this time – to be a bridge, so to speak – until someone else who is elected comes over and takes over."

36 Comments

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  • elcid89 Sep 13, 2007

    "smart man................there is no way that the job pays enough to make you want to move to Durham...........!!"

    Average salary for a District Attorney in NC is about $105,000 a year. That wouldn't motivate me to move to Durham either.

  • Ekeoutalivin Sep 12, 2007

    The appointment is safe. After the last mess do you want to appoint someone who will run for the office? Saacks is just a good care taker until the next election is held. He is not qualified to run unless he moves. Let things get back to semi-normal and then let Durham elect who they want.

  • colliedave Sep 12, 2007

    Why didn't he apoint the individual who came in second in the last election?

  • ++Ajax++ Sep 12, 2007

    This has nothing to do with nifong. it has to do with a governor
    who apparently feels he can violate the laws of north carolina. did'nt easley appoint the last d.a. to durham under the condition he would'nt run for election? I smell something fishy. maybe it's my lunch....... coming up that is.

  • whocares Sep 12, 2007

    Does anyone want Nifong back? This guy actully has morals and I don't care whether or not he lives in Durham and can vote there. I don't blame him for not wanting to live in Durham, I left and I have peace and quiet at night instead of "thumping" music and gun shots. He is a decent man with common sense and the attorneys in Durham have a high regard for him for his ethics.

  • parr4246 Sep 12, 2007

    "Saacks, who will serve as district attorney until the 2008 election, when a new district attorney will be elected, said last week he has no intention to move to Durham and run for the post next year."

    smart man................there is no way that the job pays enough to make you want to move to Durham...........!!

  • TechRescue Sep 12, 2007

    In light of the comments that are here now, I'm mystified as to why mine was deleted...

    Governor Mike "the rules don't apply to me" Easley has a long and proud history of doing whatever he wants regardless of the law or any sense of decency. Several examples have already been posted. To those I would add:

    Asking people to stay home the Thanksgiving after Katrina, then getting SHP to fly him to Southport.

    Working with his buddy Jim Black to skirt the legislative rules and get the lottery passed. Moving his pet programs into lottery funds after pledging that the money would only be used for new spending.

    Nothing in the quotes from the Constitution above indicates that the Legislature does not have the right to LIMIT who the Governor can appoint.

    The NC Executive and Legislative branches need a good house-cleaning: remember that next November.

  • hpr641 Sep 12, 2007

    Good Ole King Mike: You know, I just signed this law a month ago, but since I really want to appoint this particular guy, to heck with that pesky law. I say the constitution gives me the right to appoint Bugs Bunny if I want, and by the time the legislature can get the courts to do anything about it, the term will have expired anyway.

    King Mike, was there NO ONE in Durham County that was qualified to be the DA for 16 months? Or, were you simply making a point to the legislature?

  • FE Sep 12, 2007

    With all due respect to alwayslovingu30, it is a bit unrealistic to expect the governor to contact you, egardless of who your friends are.

    If there is financial fraud, the State Auditor's Office does a commendable job.

    If there is criminal governmental activity, contact the SBI.

    DISCLAIMER: The intent of this message is to be on-topic.

  • alwayslovingu30 Sep 12, 2007

    We have tried to contact easley to help in A crooked state matter an never get any call back.sounds about right for crooked politicians an lawyers the laws are written to help them not the public.Ihave A friend working in the governors mansion an we still cant get easley to contact us back.so thats how the ball bounces here in n.c.

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