Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney Bill Doupé, of Thomson, was sworn in for his second term Monday morning in Warrenton. Doupé, for many years an assistant district attorney in the circuit, was first elected in November 2016 and took office in January 2017. Long-time District Attorney Dennis Sanders planned to retire and Doupé ran against one opponent and won. This year Doupé ran unopposed and in January begins his second four-year term. With four years under his belt as the district attorney, how does he look at the job while moving into his second term? Doupé shared a story of a friend asking what would happen if he were unable to come to court and try cases. He asked what would happen to the office. “I said ‘I don’t know. We’ve got some good people that I working up to them getting ready to try the big cases’,” he said. As Doupé tells it, his friend told him if they were not ready then he wasn’t doing a good enough job. “My goal these next four years will be we’ve got very talented assistant DAs and they’re going to be given more and more authority and they’re going to be trying some of the bigger cases with me,” Doupé said. He explained in key cases he has been taking the lead and having an assistant DA sit in the second chair. “It may be on some of these I may be second chair and they’re going to be taking the lead. There’s only one way to get experience and that’s to get in and do it,” Doupé said. “I’ve got to start getting people ready. The days of the DA being able to try every single murder in this circuit — I think we’re just getting overloaded.” He said once courts resume after COVID-related delays, his office will be “busy beyond the belief.” While the court system catches up on trials, he said there may be trails going on in multiple counties at the same time. “We’re getting to the point where my assistants can really start showing up on the heavyweight cases throughout the circuit,” he said. Doupé said a trial calendar was set to resume Feb. 15 starting in McDuffie, but the Georgia Supreme Court just issued another order shutting down jury trials until at least mid February. “With the timetable it takes to summon jurors and subpoena witnesses we can’t wait until the last minute to that, so that calendar is off calendar,” said Doupé. “We’re hoping if everything goes well and the numbers get knocked down and the vaccine is effective, maybe in the springtime we can resume normal jury trials,” he said. Although his office is in Thomson, Doupé chose to have his swearing in at the Warren County Courthouse. When he first became an assistant DA in August of 1998 he was assigned Warren and Wilkes counties. Although now he has worked in all the counties through the years, he said Warren and Wilkes counties have always felt special to him. “I really feel a connection with Warren County, in addition to the other counties, and also with Judge Thigpen retiring I really respect her and thought it would be neat to have her give me my oath on my second term,” Doupé said. “And I think the world of Sheriff Joe Peebles. We’ve worked with him for 22 years and I wanted him to hold the Bible and be a part of it too.” Doupé said in this day and age, an oath is important and vital. He said Monday morning he thought of how in law school his contracts professor always said you never needed a good contract when things are good, but you need one when things are difficult and there is angst and disagreement. He equated that statement about contracts to the oaths officials take. “Oaths are probably something that nobody thinks about when things are going smooth, but when the chips are down and the tough decisions need to be made most of us constitutional officers have taken oaths to support the laws of the State of Georgia and the Constitution of the United States,” he said. “The oath is what you fall back on to make sure you do the right thing, even if it may not be the popular thing.”
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