City native begins job as third assistant DA

Published 12:44 am Saturday, September 15, 2012

Vicksburg native Bert Carraway officially began his role as third assistant district attorney Friday after receiving word that he had passed the state bar exam.

Carraway, 34, began working in the DA’s office about six weeks ago, handling paperwork for probation revocations, while he waited for his results from the state’s licensing exam for attorneys.

“He’s doing a great job for us already,” said District Attorney Ricky Smith.

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Carraway is a graduate of Vicksburg High School, Mississippi College and Mississippi College School of Law and a veteran of the U.S. Air National Guard, which took him to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Carraway joins that staff including assistant district attorneys Angela Carpenter and Lane Campbell.

While attending law school, Carraway was a legal intern at the DA’s office and was able to gain courtroom experience under the limited practice act.

“You have such an edge afterwards,” Carraway said. “You really get that frog out of your throat in the courtroom.”

Following graduation, Carraway decided to apply for the open position at the DA’s office because he wanted more time inside the courtroom.

“Trial is really becoming a dying art,” Carraway said. “In a firm, you don’t want into a courtroom nearly as much as you do as a prosecutor or public defender.”

In the Air National Guard, Carraway worked as a flight crew chief on missions to extract wounded soldiers, many of whom were special forces members.

“You’re getting the guys who are doing the heavy-lifting,” Carraway said. “Here I see it in a similar light. This office speaks for the people who can’t speak for themselves.”

As third assistant district attorney, Carraway will be paid $60,000 per year. During county budget talks, supervisors considered eliminating the job, which is the only attorney’s position in the office not funded in full by the state.

“I do appreciate the Board of Supervisors making the difficult choice of adding a position when money is so tight,” Smith said.

The county will pay $57,0000 of the salary, while the district attorney’s office pitches in $3,000. A portion of the salary is funded by fines and fees collected from offenders enrolled in the pretrial intervention program, Smith said.

“It’s not all taxpayer funded,” he said.

Pretrial intervention allows first-time nonviolent offenders to enter a nonadjudicated 18-month program where they pay fines, fees and restitution while staying out of jail. The amount of money generated by the program varies depending on the number of offenders enrolled.

Fines from convictions and plea agreements also generates money for the county, and the average fine per case is about $1,000, Smith said.

“I feel confident that in his first year, Bert will have pled enough cases to make up or his salary,” Smith said.