BOISE – Bart Davis had a choice of offices when he moved to the fifth floor of the new Pioneer Crossing complex in Boise as a US attorney. He chose a corner office from which he can see the dome of the Idaho Capitol some distance away between a row of downtown buildings.
After three and a half years as a US attorney, Davis is now leaving this office. Today will be his last day in the mail.
The 65-year-old former senator focused on organized crime and gang crimes in Treasure Valley while serving as Idaho’s chief state attorney. According to his law firm, he filed more than 1,000 criminal cases in three years, more than any other US attorney. He prosecuted more than 1,200 violent criminals and worked with prosecutors to combat child exploitation.
Davis and his office were hit by the pandemic in his senior year and had to adjust to remote working and other security measures. He was pursuing cases of pandemic-related fraud, such as hoarding, price cuts, and fraud related to the paycheck protection program. Davis said cyber crime against children has also increased over the past year.
But his legacy won’t be the cases he won or the violent criminals he brought onto the streets, Davis said. It will be the people he hired.
“I’ve had the privilege of leading some of the best women and men in the federal service,” Davis said in his office earlier this month. “I’m so proud of these people and the work they do.”
Davis was nominated by former President Donald Trump and has been in office since September 2017. President Joe Biden recently asked Trump-appointed attorneys to step down. Trump had also purged the U.S. attorneys appointed by Barack Obama in 2017.
US Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo said in statements Thursday that Davis was a committed official. Risch, who served with Davis in the legislature, credited Davis with “protecting Idaho children and keeping illegal drugs and gang violence out of Gem State” in the cases he prosecuted.
“His leadership will have a positive impact on Idaho in the years to come, and Vicki and I wish Bart and his family all the best when he returns to his personal life,” said Risch.
Crapo urged the Biden government to find a worthy successor.
“He has dedicated his role as the US attorney for Idaho to law enforcement, rightly prosecuting those accused of crimes and ensuring that all Idahoers receive equal justice,” said Crapo, adding that Biden “should nominate a person to with which he can occupy his seat. ” his equal level of leadership, jurisprudence, and sound legal judgment. “
Davis said he didn’t know what’s next for him. He will soon be 66 years old. But he’s definitely not retired, he said, and has been considering running for another office.
Davis says his son’s death gave him a “soft spot” for crime victims
As Davis sits at his desk, he stands in front of a wall with photos – one of his wife Marion and one of his son Cameron, whom they buried in 2003. He was 23 years old.
Cameron, a student at Boise State University, was fatally shot and killed by another student, Vincent Craig Olsen, at a Boise keg party in March 2003. They had argued. Cameron threw beer at Olsen and Olsen shot him with a revolver hidden under his clothes.
Davis said it was the toughest time in his life. But he has hoped and prayed that his experience did not lead to a “sharp edge” in his approach as a prosecutor, he said.
“I didn’t want to hate my life, and I definitely didn’t want my kids to hate anyone,” said Davis.
His son’s death gave Davis a “weakness” for crime victims and a passion for protecting them. Davis said the two were caught at a moment neither of their mothers was proud of.
“A young man ended up in jail and my son was buried in the cemetery. Which mother had it harder? “Davis said when he got emotional,” To this day, I don’t know the answer to that question. “
Davis’ connection with the Idaho Legislature
A photo that was framed and placed on Davis’ bookshelf was taken in 2006 by the Idaho statesman – a group of lawmakers who had partnered with law, including Davis, now Governor Brad Little, Senator Pro-Tem Bob Geddes, and the then Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett, who died in 2010.
As the Senate majority leader, Davis also made national news for his opposition to bills that allowed covert running of school grounds and other gun laws. Davis served 10 terms as legislator in Idaho Falls, most of them as the Senate majority leader.
Davis didn’t comment on the Idaho legislature or the Republican Party. He said his current impartial role was to strictly enforce the public guidelines set by Congress and felt it was important to recognize his place.
“It was my privilege to serve. But it was also my duty to go, ”said Davis. “My picture is on the walls… But I’m a passer-by. I am not a permanent member of that body, and that is a lesson to be learned by anyone who serves there. And some of us take longer to learn than others. “
Little said in a statement sent to the statesman Thursday that Davis’ civil service legacy “is unmatched in this state”.
“I wish him well in his next chapter and thank him for all of his work to make Idaho safe and successful,” wrote Little.
While serving as a US attorney, Davis carried laminated teachings from a former US attorney general, Robert H. Jackson, who said a prosecutor had more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in the country.
Davis said he recognized the “immense power” his office had over people’s lives. He believed that he and his staff were strategic, thoughtful, and “slow to make a law enforcement decision” knowing that his office would damage a person’s reputation even with dismissed charges.
But the easiest part of the job was being the “greatest cheerleaders” on his staff, he said.
“You believe in the Justice Department’s mission,” said Davis, “and I believe in them.”