A week before voters head to the polls, District Attorney Julia Slater touted a long list of accomplishments, saying at a Tuesday morning news conference that she fulfilled campaign promises and improved the office in four years at the helm.
Slater, who is opposed in the General Election by prosecutor Mark C. Post, compared the obligations of elected officials to the servants in the Parable of the Talents in the Bible. Just as the master entrusted his servants with his property, voters have trusted her with the duties of her office, she said.
"I could have behaved as the third servant," Slater told a group of supporters on the plaza level of the Government Center. "I could have kept it safe by not making any changes. I could have closed the figurative doors of the District Attorney's office and not changed anything and then, at the end of four years, I could have gone back to the voters and said, 'Look, here's your DA's office exactly like you gave it to me -- nothing bad has happened to it.'"
Instead, Slater said she's taken "calculated risks" by prosecuting cold cases and revamping the office's infrastructure in outlying counties, and she suggested she should be proportionally rewarded like the first servants in the parable.
"I took chances with the office," she added. "I have been faithful with my four years in office, and I'm asking for another four years."
Saying she was glad to have "equal time" to discuss her accomplishments, Slater also pointed to a web-based case management system she implemented in Muscogee County, which she said had "an overwhelmingly positive result." She's also reduced judicial backlog, improved communication with law enforcement agencies and remained an active member of the community, she said.
Slater acknowledged some voters may not have agreed with all of her decisions in office, including those that have drawn negative attention. "I am not very politically savvy," she said. "I just look for the truth and I seek justice."
She underlined the case of bush ax murderer Michael Curry, a prosecution questioned by critics that nevertheless yielded a conviction. "I'm pleased we've been able to help bring justice to some who have gone unpunished for years," Slater said, addressing a crowd that included Jim and Bernice Johnson, the parents of the slain Ann Curry.
Michael Curry was found guilty in a circumstantial case last year of killing his pregnant wife and two children. He's serving life sentences behind bars, and the Georgia Supreme Court has upheld his conviction.
Alluding to Post but not calling him by name, Slater said she thought it "political and self-centered" for prosecutors to keep and tout a win-loss record. But Post says his conviction rate stands as irrefutable proof of his ability in the courtroom.
"Part of the candidate comparison is my record of success in the courtroom as compared to her record in the courtroom, and there is a stark difference there," he said in a telephone interview. "Her cases are noncomplex. It takes somebody that is skilled to effectively lead the office."
After her prepared remarks, Slater told reporters she had not made decisions yet in a number of high-profile cases. She hasn't decided whether to re-try Kareem Lane, and she doesn't know when a decision might be made. A jury last month deadlocked in its deliberations over whether Lane killed Muscogee Schools Superintendent Jim Burns, resulting in a mistrial.
Slater also couldn't say whether she'll pursue criminal charges in an officer-involved shooting last year in which a Columbus police officer fatally shot an alleged bank robber and a bystander. She said she also is still deciding whether to seek capital punishment against Dane Register, a man charged with arson and double murder in Chattahoochee County.
Register's arraignment recently was delayed, but Slater said that doesn't mean prosecutors are committed to seeking the death penalty in the case.