DURHAM-- An Assistant District Attorney is finding herself at the center of a war of words bewteen her boss, District Attorney Roger Echols, and District Court Judge Fred Battaglia, Jr.
“What other people say and do, I can't control. All I can do is come to work and do my job well,” says Ameshia Cooper.
Cooper served as prosecutor for a trial last month, where several protesters where charged with misdemeanors for toppling over a confederate statue in Durham last August. Cooper failed to get convictions on the first three protesters, leaving Echols to drop the charges against the rest.
“I was more than prepared to deal with it, and I worked hard on this case,” says Cooper.
Judge Battaglia presided over the trial. According to the Herald Sun and Durham Indy Week, he spoke of her later at an unrelated GOP event. He reportedly called her a “third string player” and a “lovely person with no experience". Cooper took it as a personal insult.
“I was appalled that a member of the district court bench would, in a public forum, say such disparaging things about me,” shares Cooper. “As a woman of color, we often are marginalized, pushed to the side, undervalued, and it's unfortunate.”
Echols quickly came to her defense. He put out a scathing letter calling the judge's reported comments as “inappropriate, unnecessary, and inaccurate".
“It was an attack first and foremost on an employee of this office who was doing her job,” says Echols.
Cooper says she's not bothered by the comments, saying only Durham residents matter.
“So I have no reason to be upset, or afraid, or disappointed,” she says.
Echols' office and Judge Battaglia have not been in contact with each other. Spectrum News reached out to the Judge's office for comment, but our call wasn't returned.