Local lawyer hired as new prosecutor

Friday, October 30, 2009

Starting next week, there will be a new prosecutor of defendants charged with driving under the influence of an intoxicant, according to the district attorney elected from Marshall, Bedford, Lincoln and Moore counties.

Chris Collins of Lewisburg "is taking the job that Kate Lavery had when she moved to Chattanooga for a similar position," District Attorney Chuck Crawford said shortly after the grand jury delivered its monthly report on Wednesday.

Nearly a week earlier, state Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee announced that a $163,863 "DUI Prosecutor Grant" had been awarded to Crawford's office to promote public safety on Tennessee roads.

The prosecutor's office has another staffer working toward DUI prosecution. The grant also pays for equipment supplies, mileage and on-going training.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the funding to the Governor's Highway Safety Office which scores grant applications with an external highway safety advocate's office. Agencies that met the criteria for funding received awards.

"These funds should help us in our efforts to make our roads safer," Tracy said,

The $163,863 is a renewal of a previous grant to pay for prosecution of drunken drivers.

Now an assistant district attorney, Collins is a graduate of Memphis Law School. He graduated from Lipscomb University where he studied business and political science and was active in student government. He was a running back at Battleground Academy in Franklin where he was also on the track team. Collins campaigned for Phil Bredesen's election as governor and was the candidate's manager for his campaign in southern Middle Tennessee. He had his real estate license prior to graduating from college and deciding to go to law school. He was a real estate salesman for Grover Collins Realty and Auction and before leaving Memphis to come back to his home county, he played on the Memphis city rugby team

"We are excited to have him aboard," Crawford said. "He has exhibited an enthusiasm that will serve us all well.

"He has already been employed by our office as a criminal investigator while we awaited the results of his bar examination," Crawford said. "He used his time to familiarize himself with the duties that he has now undertaken."

Statistical need for prosecution of DUI cases is one of the criteria used by the state when determining where the federal money should be spent, according to a prepared announcement from Tracy's office.