Burke attorney running for DA

Sick of sitting on the sidelines'
Feb. 16, 2014 @ 08:12 AM

David Learner, a lawyer and former prosecutor in Burke County, says he wants to restore confidence and respect to the office of district attorney for the 25th Judicial District.

Learner, 57, served as an assistant district attorney under fellow Republicans Bob Thomas from 1987-89 and David T. Flaherty from 1997-2002. He resigned in 2003 shortly after Republican Jay Gaither became district attorney.

Learner said he was an aggressive prosecutor under Thomas and tried many felony cases before juries, including death penalty murder cases, armed robberies, assaults, arsons, habitual felons and other violent criminals. In 2001, he started the Habitual Felon Task Force in Burke County, and he said he enjoys strong support from law enforcement.

"I am so sick of sitting on the sidelines," Learner said. "Somebody's got to do something. I've never sought elected office before. I don't care what the politics of a crime victim, defendant or a law enforcement officer are, I will be there for them, and I've got the ability."

Learner, who earned his law degree from Wake Forest University, has been in private practice since 2003, but he said his heart is in prosecuting cases and putting his courtroom skills to use. He said that Gaither, who had tried few felony cases before being elected in 2002, lacks those skills, and as a result the district attorney's office and the community suffer. He said he thinks that the local jails are overflowing because Gaither is not doing his job.

"I'm a trial lawyer and will be in there working cases," Learner said. "If you don't understand what a jury is likely to do, then you have no idea if a case should be plea bargained or tried. Jurors are very perceptive."

The 25th District covers Caldwell, Catawba and Burke counties. Learner filed his candicacy papers last week. Learner has been married to his wife, Kathy, a psychologist, for 35 years. They have one son, age 26.