Scott Reilly throws hat in ring for DA's race

This is Newton attorney's second run
Feb. 06, 2014 @ 08:14 AM

Newton attorney Scott D. Reilly announced his candidacy Wednesday for the Republican nomination for district attorney in the 25th Judicial District.

This is Reilly's second bid for the top prosecutor's job, having lost in the primary in 2002 against then-incumbent David T. Flaherty of Lenoir, James C. Gaither and former District Attorney Bob Thomas. Gaither won that primary and went on to defeat Democrat Bob Grant in the general election. Gaither won re-election in 2006 and 2010. The 25th District covers Caldwell, Catawba and Burke counties.

Reilly announced his candidacy from the steps of the old 1924 Catawba County Courthouse in downtown Newton, home to many trials Reilly worked as an assistant district attorney under Thomas and later as a private defense attorney.

Reilly said during the five-minute press conference that he will run a positive campaign. But he made numerous references to the way the DA's office is being run under Gaither.

"We know that in elections past, there's been a lot of negative campaigning, a lot of smear campaigns and a lot of ugliness," Reilly said. "That is something we will not participate in. But the truth is that our judicial system is not running on all cylinders right now."

Reilly said he would be a more hands-on district attorney than Gaither:

"My decision to run for district attorney reflects no personal animosity or any disrespect whatsoever to our current district attorney. My issues with him are not personal. I believe the issue is simple: Should the office of district attorney be an administrative position, or should our district attorney be a litigator who goes into the courtroom and tries cases every day and fights for the victims of crime? I believe only an attorney who tries cases every day can truly be an advocate for victims of crime, and can be responsive to law enforcement officers and truly uphold justice in a fair, honest and ethical manner."

Without citing examples, Reilly also said politics often gets in the way of justice under Gaither's administration.

"It is time to take politics out of the district attorney's office," Reilly said. "Politics has no place in the protection, safety and welfare of our citizens. A victim deserves to be protected. I want 100 percent consistency, transparency and fairness. And when you allow politics to factor into your decision-making process, you begin to water down the consistency, the transparency and the fairness."

Reilly, 51, graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne College (now Lenoir-Rhyne University) and received his law degree at Colley Law School in Lansing, Mich. He is a former member of the Catawba County Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse's board of directors and the Catawba Valley Medical Center Ethics Committee Board. Reilly and his wife, Beth, live in Conover and attend Corinth Reformed Church.

The filing period for candidates begins at noon Monday and ends at noon on Feb. 28.

Reilly will face at least two opponents in the primary: Gaither, who said he plans to formally announce his re-election campaign later this week, and Burke County attorney David Lerner.