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Columbus Co. Sheriff clarifies criticism of DA

READ MORE: Columbus Co. Sheriff clarifies criticism of DA
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COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- District Attorney Jon David has gone through some ups and downs since being sworn in more than ten months ago.

David, who is responsible for cases in Brunswick, Columbus and Bladen Counties was featured in this week's edition of "North Carolina Lawyers Weekly." A few strong comments by Columbus County Sheriff Chris Batten in that story have stirred up some controversy. Today, though, Batten said some of those comments were taken out of context.

David, who has already been through a battle with Chief District Court Judge Jerry Jolly over traffic court, now faces allegations Batten, who said in the story that David was giving little attention to cases in two of the three counties he served.

In the story Batten says, "I don't think Columbus and Bladen are being treated quite fairly. I think he just wants to put most of his focus on Brunswick to thank those folks in a roundabout way for putting him into office."

But Sheriff Batten says the writer only used his negative comments for the story. Batten also says he only felt that way for the first six to eight months in the David administration.

"In the last two or three months, like I spoke to the journalist about it, I think that things have really made a turn," Batten said today. "I think some of our concerns are being met and looked at, being evaluated and being worked on through the DA's office."

In the story, Batten says he would not oppose splitting the 13th Judicial District into two parts giving a different DA to Columbus and Bladen while David serves Brunswick.

"In the beginning I did entertain some comments from some citizens and attorneys and from some of the people in the judicial system about the need for a split district, where Columbus and Bladen would be separated from Brunswick," Batten told WWAY. "Right now I think Jon needs the opportunity to prove himself."

David told WWAY by phone that although this situation does not surprise him, he does deeply value the relationship he has with Batten. He also said that the man who wrote the article, Phillip Bantz, did not initially know that he had a twin brother, Ben David, who is also a District Attorney.

When WWAY reached out to Bantz, we got a response from the editor of the newspaper.

"Some people said favorable things, and others said less favorable things (about David). If Sheriff Batten now regrets his comments, that's fine. But he said them, Phillip wrote them down, and Lawyers Weekly printed them," Dan Gearino said. "There was no agenda aside from good journalism."

Batten and David may disagree about that but both do agree that they have a good relationship and look forward to working with each other the future.

"I think he's got a good leadership team going here in Columbus County, and he has brought some joint, shared, mutual admiration to what we need here in Columbus County, and that's justice for the people," Batten said.

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