Assistant District Attorney Norris to exit for Public Defender position

Assistant District Attorney David Norris

RUTHERFORDTON — Assistant District Attorney David Norris Jr. will leave the District Attorney’s (DA’s) employ on October 31, 2018. Norris will join the newly formed Public Defender, District Court Judge Laura Powell as chief assistant public defender on Nov. 1.

Norris had been assigned to the District Court for almost 2 decades. Under District Attorney Ted Bell’s tenure, recently Norris has been an organizer of case schedules, witness coordination, and did not carry a case load. Within the PD office, Norris will assist in the setup and management in the Public Defender’s Office.

Judge Laura Powell

The newly created Public Defender’s (PD’s) Office will eliminate most of the court-appointments of attorneys for indigent defendants.  Instead the PD office will staff Judicial District 29A in both Rutherford and McDowell counties with public defender attorneys. The composition of her offices will mirror that of the district attorney’s approved staff with eight assistant public defenders and four staff people between two court locations in Rutherford and McDowell.

Meanwhile the District Attorney has lost four experienced attorneys in the last year:

  • Assistant DA Michelle McEntire resigned from the McDowell location in June after facing the possibility of censures when a case was mishandled,
  • Assistant DA Roger McCalman left in July,
  • Assistant DA Garland Byers Jr. also resigned from the office last December citing moral and ethical issues with the district attorney.
  • Assistant DA David Norris is leaving Oct. 31, 2018.

Bell was elected as DA in 2014 and is running unopposed in the Nov. 6 election. The District Attorney can be removed from office, however, as dictated by NCGS § 7A-66 for the following:

§ 7A-66. Removal of district attorneys.
The following are grounds for suspension of a district attorney or for his removal from
(1) Mental or physical incapacity interfering with the performance of his duties
which is, or is likely to become, permanent;
(2) Willful misconduct in office;
(3) Willful and persistent failure to perform his duties;
(4) Habitual intemperance;
(5) Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude;
(6) Conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice which brings the office
into disrepute; or
(7) Knowingly authorizing or permitting an assistant district attorney to commit
any act constituting grounds for removal, as defined in subdivisions (1)
through (6) hereof.