Feature: wednesday, August 22, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
The D.A.

Terri wants to write Tim out of the script of this long-running show.

By Betty Brink and Dan McGraw

Walking into District Attorney Tim Curry’s office on the fourth floor of the Tarrant County Justice Center for the first time, a visitor can hardly miss the antlers. They seem to be everywhere. A glass coffee table is supported by several pairs made into legs; more antlers frame a large oval mirror over a couch. “I used to hunt a lot,” Curry explained, with a deep sigh. “If you like ’em, I’ll leave ’em to you in my will.” He did not smile.

Sitting stiff as a poker behind a large mahogany desk that is remarkably free of clutter, the 63-year-old Curry looked as sorrowful as an old basset hound. If a rare smile cracked the weathered lines around his mouth, it never quite erased the deep melancholy of his eyes. Wearing a well-cut, deep-blue dress shirt, a silver and blue tie knotted at his neck, his gray hair slicked back, the district attorney for the last 30 years of one of the state’s most populous counties could just as easily be imagined in faded overalls singing along with the Soggy Bottom Boys, “I am a man of constant sorrow. ...”

Sunny Dickson Curry, his wife of more than 20 years, died in 1999 at the age of 49 after a long series of illnesses. Her loss, the primary reason for the sadness that seems to envelop him, left a hole in his life that only work can fill, he said.

But there is this other woman haunting him these days. This one wants his job, a job that Tim Curry isn’t even close to being ready to give up, he said. Terri Moore, his first opponent in 12 years, is breathing down his neck in a race that many courthouse political junkies say is the most serious challenge he has faced since 1972 when he defeated incumbent Doug Crouch, arguably one of the most controversial D.A.’s in the county’s history.

What is it about Terri Moore that makes people take her seriously as Curry’s opponent? The Democrat is certainly qualified: 10 years as an assistant county prosecutor, four years as a federal prosecutor, spotless records in both jobs. She speaks thoughtfully and with passion about putting the bad guys in jail and making sure the victims get through their ordeals. She’s friendly and calculating, she’s tough and approachable, she’s loud and she’s brash and she’s funny.

But for Fort Worth audiences, one of her more valuable traits may be her ability to cuss just the right way. A lot of politicians try to get folksy in front of reporters, dropping an f-bomb or two to show their proletarian leanings. Moore, instead, likes to tell a story of how a gang member in the mid-’90s kept asking his lawyer if “that bitch Terri Moore” was going to be prosecuting his case. She revels in the title, and points out that when the fury behind it is unleashed upon the criminals, watch out, boys, because you’re going to jail. Even when she’s sitting calmly at a restaurant table, smiling, you can imagine her running wild through the courthouse, frightening gang members, defense lawyers, and a court reporter or two.

Moore, 43, is unleashing that power on Curry this fall in a race that is delicious from a number of angles. Curry hired Moore out of law school in 1987, and she rose through the ranks in his office. In 1998, she said, he told her he was running one more time and would retire before the 2002 election. According to Moore (he denies it), Curry even offered to keep the seat warm for her, promising endorsements and money if she ran in 2002. And aside from the issues of loyalty and political opportunism, there is also the fact that the future of the entire Tarrant County Democratic Party, in a sense, is riding on Moore. The last time any Democrat held countywide office here was 1998.

The reason this race is so important for both parties is the impact on local judicial races. For many years, Democratic lawyers have not run against Curry or the Republican judges because they feared reprisals. The theory — vehemently denied by Curry supporters — goes this way: If you ran against Curry and lost, he would get his Republican judge friends to blackball you from government-appointed legal defense work. Likewise, lawyers running against Republican judges fear they would get the same treatment. Criminal Court Judge Daryl Coffey said the theory is ridiculous. As proof, he names two judges who were appointed to the bench after they ran against Curry.

Still, Democrats hope a Moore victory would break the logjam. The challenger said she would hire more women and minorities, who might tend to run as Democrats for judge when they decided to leave the D.A.’s office. Any blackballing of criminal defense lawyers would be more difficult if she held the top lawyer job in the county. And if she won, Democrats might be emboldened to take their shots at countywide judge races, which would pull the party out of the pit it now finds itself in.

Not surprisingly, some see Moore’s quest as a long shot. After all, she is running against a 30-year incumbent with great name identification in a county that votes Republican about 3 to 1. But if you put your ear to the ground, you can hear the hoofbeats that signal a real horse race. The approaching dust cloud is not lost on political pundits in this town.

Thirty years ago it was Tim Curry who was the brash young challenger hell-bent on upsetting the status quo in the graceful old courthouse at the end of Main Street.

Curry had come by his legal career honestly — his dad was a lawyer who moved his practice and his family from the tiny Panhandle town of Tulia to Fort Worth in 1942. Tim and his older brother Alfred grew up in Arlington Heights; their dad’s law practice put both of them through Baylor Law School. Both joined their dad’s firm, although Tim first put in a year as a prosecutor with then-D.A. Frank Coffey.

In 1972, after nine years with the family law firm, Curry made common bond with a bunch of other young Turks who decided it was time to overthrow Coffey’s successor, Doug Crouch, whose administration was marked by charges of corruption and favoritism. Tim was 34. One late night over drinks in a bar with the other rabble-rousers, Curry decided he would be the one to take on Crouch. He filed “on the last day at the last minute. I planned to stay four years, no more. But I didn’t realize how much I’d like it.”

Curry made the same kind of criticism of Crouch that Moore is leveling at him now. “If you weren’t in [Crouch’s] tight little circle,” Curry recalled recently, “you were out. He engaged in selective prosecutions. I didn’t think things should be run that way.” Curry won in a landslide.

The one thing he had to give up was his half interest in the Albatross Club, a Jacksboro Highway beer joint that Curry and his brother had gotten in payment from a client. During the campaign, Crouch had called him a “part-time lawyer and part-time bartender.” He sold his interest, but the Albatross would hang around his neck for the next quarter-century, as the favorite after-hours watering hole for Curry and half the courthouse, the place where his enemies said he would sneak out to drink during office hours. “I drank in those days,” he said, “but not on the job. It’s not illegal to drink, just to drive and drink. I never did that.”

Curry had hammered Crouch for not personally prosecuting cases, charging him with being “absent from his office.” During his own first five years in office, Curry tried and won a large number of cases. “I had to,” he said, “because there were only 30 attorneys in the office.” The last case he prosecuted was the tremendously high-profile murder case against Cullen Davis in 1977, which he lost.

Since then, he’s stayed out of the courtroom — a point that Moore makes repeatedly. Curry said “overriding administrative duties” in a county quickly filling up with people forced him to make the change. Today he oversees more than 200 lawyers and about 125 support staff. “I hire good people,” he said. “I review all of the cases we prosecute. My job is running this office.”

Judge Coffey said one way to measure Curry is to look at the list of his opponents — all have been former prosecutors from his office. “Everybody who’s ever run against Tim are folks he’s helped. When I came here from Kentucky without any political pull, Tim hired me on merit. That’s how he operates. He’s honest. There’s never been any hint of corruption as long as I’ve known him. And when public policy calls for change, he responds.” As examples, he cited Curry’s prosecution units for DWI, domestic violence, and economic crimes, all of which, he said, are the best in the state.

Alan Levy, Curry’s top prosecutor, said that under his boss’ leadership, the office has built an outstanding record of convictions in some of the highest-profile murder and disappearance cases in the country. “Our conviction rate stays around 90 percent,” he said. “So what if Curry hasn’t prosecuted a case since 1977? His business is to manage this office and let his attorneys prosecute.

“We get a lot of young lawyers fresh out of law school,” Levy said, “and they want important cases. We let them have ’em and get some face time with the media.”

Curry’s innovations are as important as the office’s conviction rate, he said. “This was the first office in the state,” he said, to have an “open file policy,” that allows an accused person’s lawyer to come in and read the charges. “We don’t do trial by ambush.”

Moore’s campaign against Curry won’t be by ambush, either — more like full frontal assault. It’s the same way she conducted business as a highly successful prosecutor, both under Curry and later in the Dallas office of the U.S. Attorney — and the way she learned, around her family dinner table, to take on issues.

The table was a big one, and the discussions — about current events and social justice — could get hot. Moore is the youngest of nine children, born in Cleburne, the source of her rural Texas twang. Her father was a plumber, her mother a homemaker. “I grew up in a family where my parents encouraged us to read the newspaper and watch the news every night,” Moore said. “We had conversations at the supper table about current events. They were always conversations about the haves and the have-nots and how the have-nots get screwed. It always boiled down to a fairness and justice type of thing.”

Her father died when she was in the ninth grade. She graduated from Texas Christian University and the South Texas College of Law. On her first day of law school her mother died. She was hired out of law school by Tim Curry in 1987 and sent to misdemeanor court, trying drunk-driving and shoplifting cases. After eight months, she was moved up into trying felony cases. Her first case was what the office referred to as a “misdemeanor murder.”

“It was what the office called a case when it was one black guy murdering another black guy and the one that got killed had a criminal history a mile long,” she said. “The only picture I had of the victim was him in his prison uniform. I realized at that time that these people and their families deserve as much justice as anyone else.”

In 1981, she married Carlos Moore, a longtime political worker for former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright. Ten years before they met, Carlos was indicted in a 1971 tax evasion case involving campaign contributions to Wright and others. He pleaded guilty to lesser charges and was given probation. Some have contended that Carlos, who runs his own advertising and public relations firm, is the puppeteer behind Terri’s run for office. “I support my wife in her bid for office, but I’m not out there telling her what to do,” he said. “If you know Terri at all, you know she makes the decisions on her own and sticks to them.”

Moore became one of the stars in Curry’s office and established a gang unit in the mid-’90s when gang murders became commonplace. She was promoted to deputy chief of the Criminal Division, the only woman ever to hold the position. She never lost a murder case, and she put together an 89-4 record in felony cases — all this while she helped run the office as Curry’s top administrator.

She also became known as someone who was tough on crime but great with victims as well. Jana Freelove’s daughter Channing was murdered in 1995 by a gang member in a drug deal gone bad. On Moore’s web site, Jana Freelove offers this testimonial to Moore’s ability as a prosecutor. “I pray that you never suffer the pain and destruction that my family has endured,” she wrote. “But, if you do, I hope that you are blessed by a prosecutor like Terri Moore to guide you through the criminal justice system. Terri is so kind and compassionate. She held my hand and gave me a shoulder to cry on. She spent countless hours listening as we described our daughter to her. Terry gave us love and information. I could not believe someone as precious as Terri could be so ruthless in the courtroom.”

In early 1998, Moore had a job offer from then-U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins in Dallas. She went to Curry to find out if he planned to run for re-election that year.

“I went into his office to talk to him about the fed offer, and I asked him about whether he was running,” she said of her conversation with Curry. “He said, ‘I’m going to run in ’98, and I’m not going to run after that. This is really my last term. If you want to run in 2002, I hope you get it, and I’ll help you get it. I wish you well.’ ”

So Moore took the job with Coggins and established herself as a top-flight federal prosecutor. One of her biggest cases was the largest internet child pornography case in U.S. history, a case that Attorney General John Ashcroft has pointed out as the type of case his department will be pursuing in the future.

“Terri did a great job,” said Coggins. “I’ll put Terri’s experience at the state and federal level and match it with anyone’s in the country. She has the ability to reach outside the office and mobilize people. When you are talking about a county district attorney, the ability to lead and put a face on justice is huge. She’s tough as can be, but she has the compassion to work with victims’ groups. Both attributes are equally important in that job.”

Those are the kind of attributes one local judge had in mind when he offered his analysis of the D.A.’s race.

“The problem for Curry is that Terri has such a great record,” said the Republican criminal court judge, who asked not to be identified. “Everyone who has worked with her knows she is a first-rate trial lawyer and served as a great manager in the D.A.’s office. It is very hard to attack her on her record. So If Curry sits back and says ‘Vote for me because I’m a Republican,’ he’s going to lose. She is too strong a candidate for that. Curry is going to find himself in a tough fight, and if you haven’t had a tough fight in a long time, you’ll find out you’re out of practice.”

The Moore campaign said its polls show she is winning by 60 percent to 31 percent, as of the end of July. The assertion made Curry’s campaign treasurer laugh hysterically. “That’s so ridiculous, it’s hardly worth commenting on,” said Don Curry (no kin to Tim). The D.A.’s polls show that “it’s no contest at this time,” Don Curry said. “She’s got no name recognition.”

Moore herself is confident that the votes are out there. Her strategy is to concentrate on women, particularly those in the Northeast Tarrant suburbs and Arlington who have moved into the county in the past 10 years and have no political loyalty to Curry. She also plans to ride the coattails of the Democrats at the top of the ticket: Tony Sanchez for governor, Ron Kirk for U.S. Senate, and John Sharp for lieutenant governor. The presence of these three strong candidates is sure to increase voter turnout for Democrats, particularly among Hispanic voters. Moore thinks she’ll have the numbers when the minority voters in the city are combined with Republican-leaning women in the suburbs. The strategy with Hispanic voters will be to emphasize fairness in prosecutions, but also to have better outreach with victims’ rights groups. She is working hard on their behalf to have the Fort Worth Police Department start a cold-case unit.

The incumbent’s plan, Don Curry said, is to go to the voters “with Tim Curry’s exemplary 30-year record. ... We’ll do some signage, mailings and some radio,” but won’t spend money on tv ads “until we see if this develops into a full-blown campaign.”

Curry, however, seems to be raising money as if the race is already full-blown. Through July 15, he’s raised $135,800, with Bass family PACs kicking in the largest share at $15,000. Plus, Curry has “some funds from past campaigns on hand,” Don Curry said, although he declined to say how much. Moore has $125,192; her largest contributor is campaign treasurer Kelly Puls at $45,000.

Don Curry seemed astonished at Puls’ $45,000 contribution, calling it “a real head-scratcher for a local race, makes you wonder.”

“I’ve known Terri since we were freshmen in TCU,” Puls explained. “She’s our [Puls and his wife’s] good, good friend. I have nothing against Tim — he’s an old friend, too — but it’s time to bring our generation into that office, and Terri’s simply the best one to do it.” There’s no quid pro quo in this, he said, since he’s a civil attorney who would have no cases before the D.A.’s office. Puls said that he’s been “fortunate in making a lot of money” as a personal injury lawyer. “I believe in putting your money where your mouth is, giving back, and that’s it.”

As for the contention that a win from Moore could be the unraveling of the Republican stranglehold on the county, party chairperson Pat Carlson also laughed. “She’s not going to win,” she said. “This is Republican country. We will sweep the ballot — again.” Don Curry also pooh-poohed Moore’s contention that she could appeal to suburban Republican women. “She comes from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party,” he said. “She doesn’t fit the mold for conservative women.”

Why didn’t Terri Moore run against Curry as a Republican in the March primary, as many advised her? “Because I’m a Democrat, and I ain’t lying to anyone about that,” she said. “I’m not one of those liberal Democrats. Hell, I’ve put too many people on death row to be considered a liberal. I’m a Democrat because I believe that justice should be held to a high standard, whether the victim is a poor criminal or a millionaire. Too often I have seen money determine justice, and I’ve seen the prosecutor’s office have little interest in victims who are poor. That’s not what justice is about.”

As the only race in the county with any juice, this one, obviously, is already getting nasty. Moore is clearly willing to attack her former boss. Meeting with her advisors at a North Side Fort Worth Mexican restaurant, she repeatedly referred to the 63-year-old incumbent as “that old geezer.”

Curry’s response begins with that contention from Moore that he told her he would step down in 2002 and throw his support to her. “I would have never told her my political plans, one way or the other,” he said.

As for the idea that he would have supported her candidacy, “Terri is a good trial lawyer, one of the best,” he said, “but she has no administrative skills to run an office this size with a budget of $27 million.”

So far he hasn’t attacked Moore’s record, but she’s already bristling over a recent fundraising letter calling her a liberal.

“Sheeit,” she said in her trademark Texas twang. “Was I a liberal when I won all those murder cases for him and put all those people on death row? Do you think the criminals care whether the D.A. is a Democrat or a Republican when they are committing their crimes? If his campaign strategy is to call me a liberal, I’m going to win big.”

Moore said that Curry’s courtroom avoidance makes him an absentee landlord.

“What Curry is doing is a fraud,” she said. “He hasn’t even been in a courtroom since he lost the Cullen Davis case in 1977. You can’t defend that. He has no idea who is good and who isn’t. He has no input on death penalty cases.”

“What happens is that justice becomes uneven when you run an office like that,” she said. “The fact of the matter is that the D.A. in Tarrant County is just a hollow name. The prosecutors only know him as that old dude they meet when they get hired or when they leave. The public only sees him when he runs for office. Why should the taxpayers pay a salary for a man who does nothing?”

Judge Coffey’s defense of Curry on that point is succinct: “You don’t send your generals into battle, if you’re smart.” As for death penalty cases, both Curry and Levy said that Curry and his three top felony chiefs review each capital case, with Curry making the final decision on whether to seek the death penalty. “No decision is made on a capital case without his full knowledge and approval,” Levy said.

However, one former assistant D.A., who asked not to be identified, acknowledged that the lack of courtroom presence by Curry is an issue in the office. “The prosecutors never see Tim, and at times that is OK,” said the lawyer. “But he is so disengaged that too much power is in the hands of his mid-level managers. That’s where the problem is.”

Curry’s absence from the courtroom isn’t the only topic on which this campaign echoes his 1972 race against Crouch. There are also questions of favoritism and failure to prosecute some cases.

Judge Coffey said rumors of favoritism for Curry’s friends are wide of the mark. Curry’s actions in 1991 when his 27-year-old son was put on trial for amphetamine possession prove his fairness, Coffey said. “Tim called in a special prosecutor, and never interfered.” The son, Cullen, was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.

Thirty years ago, Curry hammered the incumbent for “excessive dismissals” of cases and his refusal to prosecute two high-profile narcotics dealers. This time around, it’s the families of several murder victims who are complaining about Curry’s alleged inaction.

The group, called Parents Of Murdered Children, is campaigning for Moore. Robert and Sandy Houston, Bob and Barbara Arnett, Lee and Janie Salvador, Jackie Ancrum, and Hector Carrillo say the D.A.’s office had the evidence to bring the killers of their grown children to justice, yet it refused to attempt to do so. The Houston and Salvador families said Curry insulted them further by not returning their phone calls or responding to their letters, an accusation he doesn’t deny. “I sent their requests to the prosecutors handling their cases,” he said.

The Houstons’ son, Chad, 20, was killed in the parking lot of a local bar in 1998; numerous witnesses said three young men grabbed him from behind, and one knocked him to the ground, where he hit his head so heard that the witnesses said they heard his skull crack. He never regained consciousness. The fact that the assailants were no-billed by two grand juries doesn’t satisfy the Houstons. They said that the D.A.’s office took a “boys will be boys” attitude about the fight, didn’t want an indictment, and let the jurors know it.

Prosecutor Jay Lapham denied the charge. “We took this case seriously,” he said. Lapham took the case to a second grand jury after the Houstons brought him evidence that hadn’t been presented to the first panel. “I tried hard for an indictment. But you can’t make a jury indict, and the law is clear; you can’t keep presenting evidence ’til you get the result you want.”

In an Aug. 18 article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, however, Lapham said that he “did not recommend an indictment to the grand jury because he felt the evidence did not justify it,” and that Chad probably died as a result of “tripping over his own feet.”

“That is just ludicrous,” said Mike Ware, the attorney who represented the Houstons in a civil suit against the three alleged assailants. Prosecutors, Ware said, have an affidavit from the doctor who treated Chad in the hospital, stating that the assailant’s blow to his head shared equally with the fall, in bringing about his death. “I’ve seen this D.A.’s office get indictments on much weaker evidence than they had in the Chad Houston case.”

“It speaks volumes that the civil case was prosecuted successfully with the same evidence the D.A.’s office had.” Ware said. The families of the three men paid the Houstons an undisclosed amount of damages. Civil suits, of course, carry a lighter burden of proof than criminal cases.

“I understand where they’re coming from,” Curry said of the Houstons. “They have lost a son. I might be doing the same thing.” But then he added, “They have to let go of this. [Their son’s death] came out of a drunken brawl by a bunch of college kids. We couldn’t prove who did it. But they’re not going to be satisfied ’til someone’s hanging from the highest tree. I think Terri’s taking advantage of those people, using them politically.”

Moore is tossing back at Curry a slightly different version of his complaint 30 years ago of Crouch’s selective prosecution. She alleges that Curry presides over a tightly knit “good old boy system” that too often leaves minorities and women out in the cold, both professionally and in terms of prosecution decisions.

Two other former top-notch prosecutors are raising uncomfortable questions about Curry’s management, charging that the office is insensitive to minority victims, suffers from a “white male-dominated” management team that keeps strong female prosecutors penned under a glass ceiling, tolerates excessive drinking, and is slow to hire and promote minorities.

“Strong women are threatening to those good old boys down there who don’t want to let go,” said Lisa Mullen, a criminal defense attorney who worked 10 years for Curry. She was ousted four years ago after a shouting match broke out between prosecutors and other county workers over an incident at an after-hours baseball game. “I was forced to resign,” she said, “not because I took part in the name-calling, but because I was a supervisor and I didn’t stop it.”

Mullen, an Anglo, said she believes the real reason for her ouster was her fiancé Kyle Whitaker, an African-American who also worked in the D.A.’s office. “The word was out that a lot of people didn’t approve,” she said. Mullen’s firing backfired on Curry, she said, because it resulted in several resignations, including those of Whitaker and Rosanna Salinas, two of the few minority prosecutors in the department, losses the department could ill afford.

The D.A.’s office doesn’t reflect the makeup of this community, she said, which inhibits justice “for both minority victims and the accused.” According to statistics provided by Levy, deputy chief of the felony/criminal division, 18 of 103 felony and misdemeanor prosecutors are minorities. And among the 22 division chiefs, only five are women; four are minorities.

Curry dismisses all of the charges out of hand. “My office has a good record,” he said, pointing to the “thousands of successful prosecutions this office is known for. We’ve always been tough on crime. I’m running on that record.” And his office is color-blind, he said. “We hire the best people for the job.”

Levy said the charge that strong women are kept down is simply outrageous. “Terri was a deputy chief over here,” he said. “No one can accuse Terri Moore of not being a ‘strong woman.’ ” He added that she was the driving force behind the gang unit: “She built it, with Curry’s full support.”

But Lee Wyatt, a prosecutor in the office from 1993 to 1998, who now lives in Portland, Ore., and describes herself as “not a cream-puff woman,” said that not only are strong women prosecutors seen as threats to be gotten rid of, but women were also expected to “go out and drink and participate in the party scene that was dominated by the movers and shakers in the misdemeanor and felony sections” during the years she was there. “This was heavy drinking I witnessed — dangerously heavy drinking,” she said. When she quit going to the parties, she was ostracized at the office, she said, and eventually quit after being passed over for several promotions.

Levy scoffed at the charge that heavy drinking was encouraged — or that Wyatt was singled out for retaliation. Young lawyers are certainly known to drink, he said, but drunken behavior isn’t tolerated — mostly due to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers). The office responded, he said, when that group criticized the D.A.’s office for being too light on some of its own prosecutors who had been arrested for DWI but had drawn little more than a slap on the wrist. “Now, it’s a firing offense,” Levy said.

Coffey, who knew Wyatt as “a fine, compassionate” prosecutor in his court, thinks that if she was passed over for a promotion, it was more likely that she had simply burned out. “Lee bled to death for her victims,” he said.

If Moore is seeking support from minorities and women, she may be losing votes among senior citizens. It is curious to hear her refer to Curry as an “old geezer” when she’s married to a man more than 30 year her senior.

Curry “said that he’s running because his wife died and now he has nothing better to do,” she said. “Well, I would think that you wouldn’t be the district attorney and expect taxpayers to pay your salary just because you’ve got nothing better to do. Maybe that should be his slogan: ‘Elect me because I have nothing better to do.’

“But see, I have other things I could be doing,” she continued. “I left a great job as a federal prosecutor to run for this office. I could make a lot of money in the private sector if I wanted. But this is a job I want and not because I have nothing better to do. I want this job because we need to have an active and engaged prosecutor who has been in the courtroom in the past 25 years. We need a prosecutor who understands the needs of all our communities. And we need a prosecutor who understands the current crisis we are facing in law enforcement.

“If he has nothing better to do, I suggest he stay home and watch tv all day,” Moore said. “The voters in Tarrant County don’t need to elect someone so he has a place to go every day. Public safety is more important than that. The voters deserve better.” If elected, she said, she would streamline the office, get into the courtroom and try cases, and put a public face on the office.

Judge Coffey comes back with another succinct reason to keep Curry in office. “You don’t fix a car if it’s not leaking oil,” he said. “Tim’s got good years ahead.”

For those who work in the county courthouse, much is on the line in this race. Observers point to an incident, which Moore doesn’t deny, that may illustrate the size of the stakes. According to several sources, Moore got on a courthouse elevator earlier this year and was soon joined by Mike Parrish, one of Curry’s top managers. Moore was pissed that he seemed to be ignoring her. The elevator filled with more people, and still Parrish ignored Moore. As he left the elevator, Moore left Parrish with one message: “Pack your shit, Mike. You better pack up your shit.”

Back in the office, Tim Curry seemed unaffected by it all. He keeps the same sad poker face when he’s fielding a tough political question or one about his antler collection. Even though Moore has been campaigning for months, he said his effort won’t get under way until after Labor Day, and then only to the extent of mailings and yard signs. What will happen, he was asked, if Terri Moore wins this race?

“Tim Curry’s career will be over. I’ve been on this side of the law too long now to be a defense attorney.”

And if he wins, will this be his last race? “I’ll be 68 four years from now,” he said. “Who knows?”

He didn’t smile.



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