Meet the Office , where justice is our priority. Our dedicated team of experienced attorneys, investigators, and support staff work tirelessly to uphold the law and protect the rights of our community. Our Office has a commitment to fairness, integrity, and professionalism, in our pursuit of justice.
“Our duty to the people of Alabama’s 18th Judicial Circuit is comprised of two main points. The first is to keep the people of Shelby County safe by prosecuting those who disrupt our community. The second is to ensure the pursuit of justice is done in a fair and transparent way that maintains the trust of our citizens.”
Mr. Fuller received his bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and then attended law school at Birmingham School of Law, where he graduated as the Valedictorian of his class. Mr. Fuller has been with the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office since 2011.
Mr. Smith received his bachelor's degree and law degree from the University of Alabama. Over the last 25 years of practicing law, 17 of them have been as a prosecutor. Recipient of 2021 Assistant District Attorney of the Year from Alabama District Attorneys Association.
Mr. Drake graduated from UAH and then went on to the Birmingham School of Law where he graduated in 2009. Mr. Drake has been working as a prosecutor for the last 13 years. Mr. Drake was the recipient of the 2021 Prosecutor of the Year for the State of Alabama, awarded by the Office of Prosecution Services.
The HERO program is a statewide Certified Facility Dog Program to assist in helping victims and/or witnesses throughout the criminal justice process. HERO – Help Empower Restore Overcome – program began as a result of one facility dog making a difference across Alabama. Facility dog Willow began working in the criminal justice system in May 2014. The impact she made was profound. As a result of her work, Alabama’s Office of Prosecution Services (OPS) submitted a grant application to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) that would fund the work of facility dogs and their handlers across the state. The VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) grant was funded and is utilized to ensure that every victim in Alabama has access to the use of a facility dog if they desire to use a Facility Dog. Alabama currently has 13 facility dogs working across the state.
Why use a Facility Dog for the criminal justice process?
Frequently people, especially children, who have been victims of crime or who have witnessed a crime of violence are emotionally affected and traumatized by those events. They are often reluctant to disclose and, during the trial, they are often re-traumatized by those events. They have to describe, in detail, what happened to them in front of a courtroom full of strangers. Creating a comfortable atmosphere for the victim and/or witness is important for the prosecution and the defense. When the victim/witness is comfortable, emotions may not obstruct or slow down testimony, the victim and/or witness may be able to recall more details and information and be able to answer questions from the prosecution and defense, allowing justice to be served in each case.
Who is Fitzgerald?
Facility Dog Fitzgerald, also known as Fitz, was one of eight puppies born to his mother on August 3, 2017. Fitz was born in Santa Rosa, California and raised and professionally trained in Dallas, Texas.
Fitz was placed with his hander, Tonya Willingham, in August, 2019 by Canine Companions. Canine Companions determined that Fitz’s temperament was best suited to work in a public setting and placed him with Willingham, a former Assistant District Attorney with the 18th Judicial Circuit in Columbiana, Alabama. Tonya is Fitz’s Certified Handler.
Tonya has been working in the criminal justice systems since 2004, (4 years as an APOST certified Police Officer in Alabaster, Alabama, 13 years as an Assistant District Attorney with the 18th Judicial Circuit and as Certified Facility Dog Handler since 2019) and is familiar with court policies and procedures. Canine Companions provided Tonya, with two weeks of intensive training at their campus in Irving, Texas on the role of the Certified Facility Dog and Certified Handler.
After this training, Willingham and Fitz passed a public access test that is identical to the one required for service dogs. Canine Companions certified through the public access test that Willingham and Fitz’s presence in a public setting would not create a public hazard. After completing the extensive training and the public access test, Willingham and Fitz received a facility dog team permit from CC.
Fitz’s presence can provide a calming atmosphere for the families of a Murder victim during the court process. He has provided comfort for several families for pre-trial hearings, trial and sentencing in Murder or Capital Murder cases. In other crimes of violence, as mentioned above, Fitz can sit with the victim and/or witness during pre-trial hearings, at their feet when they testify at trial, throughout the course of the trial and also at sentencing if the defendant is found guilty.
How to request Fitz if you are victim/witness or family of a victim in Shelby County:
If you think you or your family member could benefit from having Fitz present with you throughout the court process, please let your victim service officer (VSO) know that you would like to have him present during the court process. You can also let the prosecuting Assistant District Attorney know at any point of the process.