Whigham vows hard line against white collar crime

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 28, 2002

People often ask Boyd Whigham why he’s running for state attorney general as he travels around the state.

To answer that question, he relates an incident that took place just recently. A young woman came up to him and introduced herself as the daughter of a woman whose murderer Whigham helped to convict 10 years ago, just two months after he become district attorney for the Third Judicial Circuit.

The case was one of the first to rely almost solely on DNA evidence for a conviction and involved a risky strategy on the part of the district attorney and his team.

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And while the young woman was grateful that justice was eventually served, she was even more grateful for the compassion and dignity Whigham demonstrated toward the family throughout the course of that trial.

Whigham is a strong believer that no individual should aspire to the top law enforcement job in the state until he or she has &uot;sat and cried with the victims and their families, looked into a jury box and delievered a tough case, and stood across from the criminals as they are sentenced to pay for their crimes, all of which I have done and will continue to do.&uot;

His opponent, Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, he points out, has never tried a single case in court.

Whigham, a Democrat, is challenging Pryor, the Republican incumbent, for the office of attorney general in the Nov. 5 general election. Wilson Myers, a Libertarian, isalso running.

In addition to a lack of courtroom experience, Whigham also takes Pryor to task for a perceived softness toward the excesses of large corporations.

Whigham charges that by refusing to file an individual suit against the tobacco industry, as the Mississippi attorney general did, Pryor cost Alabama more than $1 billion. Alabama’s share of a class action suit against the tobacco companies amounted to roughly $3 billion, as opposed to the $4.1 that Mississippi received.

At the same time, he charges, Pryor was receiving &uot;millions of dollars in soft money contributions&uot; from tobacco companies as one of the founders of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

Whigham promises that if he is elected, corporate crime will be treated no differently than crime on the streets. &uot;I don’t care if you steal with a pistol or a pencil; you should go to jail,&uot; he declares.

He also promises never to accept campaign funds directly or indirectly from any person or corporation

who is a potential defendant in either a criminal or civil case.

Whigham says it is easy for him to identify with the average Alabama resident because he’s one of them. He grew up in the small town of Louisville, Ala., working in his father’s hardware store and helping his uncle around the family farm.

After serving as a second lieutenant in the Army, he spent the next 15 years working in a cotton mill and managing a food manufacturing plant that made mayonnaise. Three nights a week he drove to Jones School of Law, where he earned his law degree in &uot;four years, three months and 21 days.&uot;