Evans to retire after 44 years practicing law

Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Doug Evans has been practicing law for the past 44 years and has served in several different capacities during that time, but come Friday, Evans plans to trade in the scales of justice and start spending his retirement years doing some of the things he truly loves to do.

Evans said he planned his retirement to coincide with his 70th birthday, which is also this Friday.

“Retirement is something that I’ve considered for some time now, and when I really began to give it serious thought, I decided my 70th birthday would be as good a time as any to finally retire,” Evans said.

“It was a difficult decision for me to make because my health is still good, and I truly enjoy what I do and the people I work with. But at some point, you have just got to make the decision that it’s time to move on to the next chapter, so that’s what I decided to do.”

Evans said it would definitely be strange to not get up each morning and head to an office to practice law after that being the norm for 44 years.

“I think I always wanted to be a lawyer,” Evans said.

“Initially, I made the decision to choose this as my career path because it was a way to help people and make an impact in some way. And looking back over the past 44 years, I can see the ways where that has been the case, and it’s something that is very satisfying to know, especially now that I am just days away from retiring.”

Evans graduated from Samford University in 1966 and went on to attend Cumberland School of Law where he graduated in 1969.

Following his graduation from law school, Evans spent a year as a law clerk in the Court of Criminal Appeals.

“This was a great experience for me, and it’s where I really developed a love for answering motions and writing briefs,” he said. “That’s something I’ve carried with me throughout my law career, and I believe I will actually miss this part of the work – the research and the response to the different motions that are filed in cases.”

After his time as a law clerk, Evans went to work for the Medical Association of the State of Alabama in Montgomery for a time before coming back to Florence and opening his own general law practice.

Evans spent more than 15 years as a defense attorney in Florence before he became the Lauderdale County Assistant District Attorney and eventually the Chief Assistant District Attorney – positions that spanned 16 years.

“While I was in Lauderdale County, I tired a case with Billy Jackson in 2001 that ended up being one of my milestone cases,” Evans said.

“This case was the first capital murder case to come through Lauderdale County in over 50 years and we won the case.

“For the role I played in the case, I was also awarded the Miriam Shehane Award by the Victims of Crime and Leniency organization. That was a great honor for me and something I was proud to be a part of.”

Evans said there have been many other important cases that he has been a part of, but after he came to Franklin County as the Assistant District Attorney in 2005, Evans had the opportunity to work on another case he considers to be a milestone case during his career – the highly publicized Christie Scott capital murder case tried in Franklin County in 2009.

After months of preparation and weeks of testimony and jury deliberations, Scott was found guilty in the capital murder of her six-year-old son, Mason, and was ultimately given the death penalty.

“It is a satisfying feeling to know that your hard work has paid off, that the jury saw your side, and that justice will be served,” Evans said.

“During all my years of law, I think I have enjoyed the prosecution side the most.

“There are many people who might have a different opinion, but for me, I feel like as a prosecutor you are in a better position to help victims of crime and make a difference.”

After spending the past nine years in Franklin County, Evans said it would be hard to say goodbye to the people he has come to truly enjoy working with.

Evans said he especially appreciated District Attorney Joey Rushing giving him the opportunity to serve the people of Franklin County.

“Working in Franklin County has been a great experience, and I really like the people I have had the opportunity to work with,” he said.

“There is such a cooperative spirit here – everybody works together toward a common goal and does their part.

“Joey, the staff in the DA’s Office, the investigators, the judges, the clerk’s office, and the people in the various other agencies we deal with are all good people, and I enjoyed being able to work with them.”

Rushing, who hired Evans after he became the district attorney in 2005, said Evans has been an important part of the office for the past nine years.

“When I first took office, I didn’t know who I wanted to hire to be the assistant district attorney, but then I found out that Doug might be leaving Lauderdale County,” Rushing said.

“Doug had a lot of experience and was good with the public, two of the main qualities I was looking for. But from my time spent in private practice and the few times I had worked with Doug in Lauderdale County, I also knew that Doug was a hard worker and very dedicated to his work and to the people he represented.

“Once Doug was hired, we hit it off immediately and he has been a wonderful part of the staff. He knows how to have a great time but he also knows how to work hard and produce results.

“We’re sad to see Doug go, but I wish him all the best with his many plans he has for after his retirement.”

Evans said his immediate plans included a trip in mid-February to New York City with his wife of 44 years, Gail.

“Gail has been so supportive of me over the years,” Evans said.

“She planned this trip for me as a sort of celebration of my retirement, and I’m looking forward to doing even more traveling with her.”

Evans’ youngest son, Somerville, is in the foreign service and has recently been stationed in Lithuania, so he said those travel plans will soon include a trip to visit with Somerville and his wife, Heidi.

He said they will also be making more frequent visits to Mobile to visit their oldest son, Greg, his wife, Lorie, and his two grandchildren – John George, 8, and Henry, 6.

And when he isn’t visiting with his family, Evans said he plans to spend more time focusing on his involvement with the Florence Camerata where he sings bass and serves on the board of directors.

He also said he plans to do some gardening and might even open a small law practice if he gets the itch to go back to work.

“I have a lot of things to look forward to in the immediate future with my family and with the things I enjoy,” Evans said.

“I will be sad to depart from the career I’ve had for over 40 years, but I’m also looking forward to what retirement has to offer.”

A retirement reception will be held in Evans’ honor on Friday, Jan. 31, from 2-3:30 p.m. in the large courtroom at the Franklin County Courthouse.

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