DA stepping down, Echols named to post

Aug. 15, 2014 @ 05:48 PM

After being appointed as Durham’s district attorney two years ago, Leon Stanback has decided to step down at the end of the month. 

Stanback told The Herald-Sun it was a decision he had been thinking about for awhile, but after serving for two years, he felt it was time to pass on the reins.
Shortly after Stanback made public his decision, Gov. Pat McCrory announced that Chief Assistant District Attorney Roger Echols would take over the DA’s office starting Sept. 1. Echols  is running unopposed for Durham district attorney in November, after emerging the victor from the spring Democratic Primary.
“I think it’s time for me to move on,” Stanback  said.  “I think it’s time to give Echols a chance to perform on the job.”
Echols said he feels positive about the change, even though it came earlier than he expected.
“If anything, [the change is] going to focus me more, because it’s earlier, and that may take a little bit away from the excitement, but it certainly doesn’t minimize the opportunity,” Echols said. “It gives me a chance to get started a little bit earlier. I do not think it will be a big difference.”
Stanback was appointed top prosecutor in Durham following Tracy Cline’s departure from the job after a rancorous public feud with Judge Orlando Hudson.
“I think when I took this position, it was a temporary acting DA that the governor’s office asked me to step in [to do],” Stanback said.  “I think I’ve had success since I’ve been here.”
Stanback said that over the years he was glad to have put together a staff that represented the people of Durham County well.
“I was very happy and proud of my staff,” he said.
That’s a staff that Echols hopes to maintain. Echols said he also hopes to establish strong, consistent leadership for the office.
“I want to do that immediately, by setting an example by being consistent and establishing great communication with the staff as the DA,” he said.
Echols said he wants to build off strong relationships Stanback created with other offices and law enforcement agencies that the DA’s office works with.
Echols said he was thankful for Stanback’s willingness to serve as the DA and that he benefitted and learned from working under Stanback.
Stanback said he doesn’t have any current plans for what he’ll do upon his departure. For now, he said, he’s just looking forward to taking some time off. Down the road, there could be a possibility of him joining a law firm, Stanback said.
“I don’t think I can sit around and twiddle my thumbs,” Stanback said. “I’m not quite ready to do that yet.”