MOBILE — Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood was sworn in Wednesday by the Honorable Michael A. Youngpeter of the 13th Judicial Circuit. Blackwood was elected as District Attorney following the retirement of District Attorney Ashley Rich.

After taking the Oath of Office, Blackwood told a packed room that having a new district attorney represents a new opportunity. He promised to be fair as the head of the District Attorney’s office.

“Our adversarial system is not designed to make us personally adversarial,” Blackwood said. “But it’s designed to protect the rights of the accused while seeking justice for those who have been wronged.

Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood. Photo: Erica Thomas.
Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood. Photo: Erica Thomas.

Crime prevention is an important aspect of the job, according to Blackwood. He said he would work with municipal and county officials to establish programs and continue a focus on alternative courts for those with specific challenges.

“Addiction and mental illness are not crimes,” he said. “But unchecked, they can lead to crimes that will escalate. If we are able to work together in a robust drug court, mental health court, veterans court, we can defer the appropriate defendants that are low-level, non-violent offenders out of the criminal justice system, hopefully forever. It’s crime prevention. We treat their underlying conditions while still holding them accountable for the decisions they made to break the law. My administration will support these efforts wholeheartedly.”

Blackwood promised to “strike blows” when necessary but said those would be fair blows.

He addressed the District Attorney’s office, stating, “To the men and women of the District Attorney’s office, I’ll say this: The decisions that you make every single day matter so much to so many people. The decisions that you make have everlasting consequences. As long as you continue to approach each and every case with reverence, knowing the awesome responsibility that you have, you will succeed in the pursuit of justice and truth.”

Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood. Photo: Erica Thomas.
Photo: Erica Thomas.

During the swearing-in ceremony, a moment of silence was held for Mobile County Circuit Judge James Patterson, who passed away Tuesday afternoon after becoming ill in December. Blackwood also said a prayer for Patterson and his family.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.