The Norman Transcript

October 2, 2013

Assistant district attorney named ‘Prosecutor of Year’

By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A Cleveland County assistant district attorney is being awarded the “Excellence in Action Against Domestic Violence Prosecutor of the Year” award this week.

Prosecutor Allie Spears will be recognized Thursday, Oklahoma’s “Wear Purple” day for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, at the State Capitol. The awards ceremony will be at 1:30 p.m. in the Governor’s Blue Room.

“It’s a challenge prosecuting domestic violence, so it’s definitely an honor to be recognized for the work,” Spears said. “It’s a challenge, but it’s something I enjoy every day and I’m glad to be assigned this docket.”

Spears said while she was studying for her undergraduate degree in social work, she worked with the Women’s Resource Center, which is what got her interested in taking domestic violence cases.

The Tulsa native attended the University of Oklahoma for her undergraduate degree and law school. During her third year of studying law, she became an intern at the district attorney’s office and has been fully employed there for two years.

“I feel as though with prosecuting domestic violence, it’s something I definitely could not do alone; it’s a team approach,” she said.

Spears attributes the team effort to law enforcement, the Women’s Resource Center, coworkers and District Attorney Greg Mashburn.

Spears said Mashburn and her coworkers are always available to help her with decisions in cases.

Law enforcement also does a great job responding to domestic violence calls, collecting as much evidence as they can (since the DA’s office does a lot of evidence-based prosecution) and they work really well with victims and follow up with them, Spears said.

The Women’s Resource Center helps victims of domestic violence, too, whether it’s helping them find a place to stay or finding them counseling, she said.

“They help make my job easier,” Spears said. “It’s definitely a group effort.”

Spears also is part of Norman’s Coordinated Community Response Team that partners with all of the law enforcement agencies in the county, Women’s Resource Center, probation officers, OU Outreach, a ministerial alliance group and an offenders council.

“It’s a way for us all to get together and tackle all the issues of domestic violence in the community,” she said.

The group discusses issues and collaborates as a team, also looking at which areas in the community may need more information about domestic violence.

Mashburn said Spears received a lot of praise after presenting at a meeting with other CCR Teams and provided a lot of useful information.

“She was overwhelmingly one of the best speakers there,” Mashburn said someone told him after the meeting. “She did a fantastic job.”

Mashburn said Spears was nominated for the award by several coworkers, and the recognition is not only for her day-to-day case work but also for the work she has done with the community response team, providing information to other offices and communities across the state.

“It’s definitely an honor. I feel like in prosecuting domestic violence, there’s always something new to learn,” Spears said. “Unfortunately, domestic violence crimes are unique where they’re not always as straight forward as other crimes.”

There are always a lot of things happening in the cases because many have family dynamics as well, she said.

“On average in the United States, a woman is abused every nine seconds, and four women are murdered by their partner every day,” the District 21 District Attorney’s website states. “Domestic violence is an escalating pattern of abuse where one partner in an intimate relationship controls the other through force, intimidation or the threat of violence.”

The awards ceremony Thursday is the first of many events scheduled this month to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Spears will serve on a panel for discussion after a free screening of the documentary “Telling Amy’s Story” at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College in Moore. The documentary follows the timeline of a woman who was murdered by her husband as she was trying to leave the abusive relationship.

Another thing the DA’s office is working on this month is a new program with Verizon Wireless to collect and distribute cell phones for victims of domestic violence.

Spears said all cell phones are required to be able to call 911 whether they have service or not, which will benefit victims if they need police assistance.

Drop-off locations are being discussed, but for now, cell phone donations can be taken to the DA’s office, which serves Cleveland, McClain and Garvin counties.