The People Behind Dallas County: Jimmy Spurger

This story is part of the Dallas County Messenger’s series showcasing the people serving Dallas County. Jimmy Spurger is an investigator working in the Capital Murder Division of the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office.

Jimmy Spurger, Investigator

Explain your specific role at Dallas County.   

I work as an investigator with the Capital Murder Division of the Public Defender’s Office. I am a member of the “defense team” responsible for representing clients accused of capital murder in Dallas County. My job is to conduct an independent investigation into allegations and into our clients’ life histories to uncover possible mitigations such as mental-health problems or intellectual disabilities.

What motivates you to continue serving as an investigator?  

I help represent indigent clients that have been accused of the most serious offenses possible. Our clients often have a severe mental illness or intellectual disabilities and have little or no financial or moral support. They are facing charges that could result in life imprisonment or, even, the death penalty. The Public Defender’s Office’s dedicated men and women may be the only people standing between our clients and an unjust prison sentence or the death penalty. That’s more than enough to motivate me every day.

What would Dallas County residents be pleasantly surprised to learn about the Public Defender’s Office?   

The Public Defender’s Office provides indigent clients accused of capital murder with a team of lawyers and investigators to represent them throughout the criminal-justice process. We conduct a thorough fact and mitigation investigation to ensure our client’s rights are protected and that justice prevails in Dallas County.

Of what accomplishments are you most proud?  

In Oct. of 2017, the Dallas Police Department charged Brian Bennett with the March 25 capital murder of Delvin Montgomery. Our division was subsequently assigned to represent Bennett and conducted a nearly year-long investigation that led to Bennett’s exoneration of the crime.

What’s an example of a creative solution that the Public Defender’s Office deployed to improve a Dallas County process or help a Dallas County resident?  

The Capital Murder Division of the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office came into existence in 2013 as an innovative and cost-effective way of representing indigent individuals charged with capital murder. Before 2013, all capital cases were appointed to private counsel in a much less efficient and a much more costly manner.

What is your favorite part of working for Dallas County?  

Dallas County entrusts the Public Defender’s Office with protecting the rights and freedoms of the most marginalized people in our community. I consider it an honor and privilege to help protect people with nowhere else to turn.

This conversation is edited for clarity.