More MS news articles for Dec 2001

DA slams opponent's suggestion he's not healthy to do the job,1002,2896~275952~127~,00.html

Friday, December 14, 2001 - 7:12:14 AM MST
By James Tressler
The Times-Standard

EUREKA -- District Attorney Terry R. Farmer, seeking his sixth term, on Thursday boldly denounced what he called "underhanded" attempts by his opponent to make Farmer's health an issue in the election.

Paul Gallegos, a local attorney, announced his intention to run on Wednesday. If elected, Gallegos said he will spend more time in the courtroom. He suggested Farmer, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a motor scooter to move back and forth between court and his office, has lost touch.

Farmer was further outraged that Thursday's story in the Times-Standard erroneously reported that he is "confined to a wheelchair." Farmer said he does not use a wheelchair and is not confined. The Times-Standard reporter subsequently apologized to him for the error.

Farmer called Gallegos' attempts to make health an issue in the campaign not only untrue, but "a slam against disabled people everywhere."

"I get around differently from other people, but I get around, I do my job," Farmer said. "One of the things I've learned is that we all have disabilities, in one nature or another. Mine are pretty obvious. I think Mr. Gallegos is perhaps revealing his disabilities when he opens his mouth."

Farmer also attacked what he described as Gallegos' "underhanded" way of making his health an issue in the campaign by pointing out Farmer's condition, but then saying he doesn't want to make health an issue.

Regarding his duties, Farmer said he doesn't consider himself chief trial lawyer. The public elected him to administer the duties of district attorney, which include supervising 15 deputy district attorneys, some 40 clerks, investigators and other support staff, and an approximately $2 million budget.

The district attorney also manages the entire caseload, which is comprised of about 1,000 felony cases alone each year. Farmer discusses all cases with the other attorneys in his office, including charges filed and potential settlements. He also trains incoming prosecutors.

"If you're going to be a trial lawyer and a district attorney, you won't do justice to either," he said. But with decades of experience in the courtroom behind him, Farmer said if his opponent wants to make trial experience an issue, no problem.

And if Gallegos wants to make his health an issue, Farmer said that's fine, too.

"We're going to be talking about this," he said.

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