Cooke sworn in as new district attorney

pramati@macon.comDecember 27, 2012 

David Cooke, the new Macon Judicial Circuit district attorney, asked the 80 or so people who attended his swearing-in ceremony Thursday morning to come together as a community after a hard-fought and often bitter campaign against outgoing DA Greg Winters.

“I realize it was a very spirited election,” Cooke said moments after being sworn in by Bibb County Superior Court Judge Phillip Brown. “But in my religious tradition, all are the same in the eyes of the Lord.”

Even though Cooke, a Democrat, won his November race against a Republican, Cooke pledged that his office would treat everyone equally according to the law.

“When it comes to justice, we’re all the same,” he said.

Cooke, a former Houston County prosecutor, ran on a platform of bringing greater attention to sex trafficking in the midstate and focusing on crimes against women and children. He said he’s making changes to address the new philosophy, but he expects to retain about 85 percent of the current staff in the DA’s office.

“The majority of this office is going to work hard no matter who is DA,” Cooke said.

Last week, four longtime employees of the DA’s office were put on notice -- prosecutors Kim Schwartz, Gary Wood and Ashley Cooper, and victims advocate Tammy Bishop -- that their futures in the office were uncertain. Another prosecutor, Cliff Woody, is retiring, while property crimes prosecutor Sharell Lewis -- who ran against Cooke for DA in 2011 and supported Winters during the most recent election -- has accepted another job.

Cooke said Thursday he has talked to five candidates about joining the DA’s office, but he wouldn’t comment on specific personnel decisions.

Nancy Scott Malcor, a veteran prosecutor in the DA’s office, said she looks forward to working with Cooke.

“David has an excellent reputation,” she said. “The changes he has talked about are necessary. I look forward to help implement them.”

Malcor said she doesn’t expect a lot of change in terms of individual prosecutors’ day-to-day duties.

“I think we’re doing what we’ve always been doing,” she said. “He’ll let us know what he wants us to do.”

David Davis, who was sworn in last week as Bibb County sheriff, said he looks forward to working with Cooke.

“We’re going to continue to make cases and hope to count on the DA’s office,” Davis said. “We already have a good relationship with a lot of the assistant DAs, and we look forward to continuing that.”

Davis said he will discuss the sex trafficking cases for which Cooke wants to devote more resources.

“Some of these cases are very complex and involve a lot of different agencies and are in multi-state jurisdictions,” Davis said. “But I’m certainly willing to work with him. I look forward to us working together in whatever the community thinks are the biggest problems.”

Cooke said he is up to speed on most of the key cases currently being worked on in the DA’s office and expects to be able to hit the ground running when he starts work next week.

He said he probably won’t have extensive involvement in the Jomekia Pope case, in which Pope is accused of burning his ex-fiancee, LaTosha Taylor, to death, noting that the case was far along. However, he said he plans to work closely with Malcor and prosecutor Dorothy Hall in the prosecution of Stephen McDaniel, who is accused of killing Mercer University law student Lauren Giddings last year.

Cooke said he can’t wait to get started.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” he said. “There’s no other job I’d rather have.”

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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