Campbell, Smith participate in states attorney forum


State’s attorney candidate Sean Smith gives his closing statement during the State’s Attorney Forum in Swen Parson Hall Tuesday evening.

By Hailey Kurth

A few students and community members gathered Tuesday in the Swen Parson building to watch the current DeKalb County States Attorney, Clay Campbell, debate with his opponent, attorney Sean Smith, in an hour-long forum.

One topic that came up during the debate was exercising discretion. Both Campbell and Smith agreed that discretion needs to be used with children in the court system.

“If I take a high school kid that’s gotten himself in trouble, and we come down hard on that individual, we’re going to impair them for the rest of their lives,” Campbell said.

In his argument, Smith said not every child is going to turn out to be a criminal because he or she does something stupid as a juvenile, and juvenile crimes need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The candidates also discussed a murder case that Campbell opened up, which is over 50 years old. Campbell said he was presented with evidence for the murder case and decided it was enough to have the case re-opened.

Smith said the State’s Attorney has an obligation to view the evidence in a case and decide if the evidence is sufficient to pursue a prosecution.

“If a case lacks sufficient evidence for a prosecutor to get a conviction, a State’s Attorney has the duty not to prosecute,” Smith said.

Following the debate, Smith said though the questions were generally more broad, he thinks attendees “got a flavor for the candidates.”

Greg Anderson, moderator of the debate and College of Law Director of Career Opportunities and Development, said although there is not a Democrat running right now, that doesn’t preclude one from running in the general election. Sauder said the Democratic party has until June 4 to slate someone in.

“I found out that there were only two republicans running, so this primary is kind of a defunct election,” said law student Morgan Sauder, who planned the event. “I thought it’d be really cool to host a debate, so I just called both of them and both were more than willing to come.”