Jan. 10, 2008

Virginia attorney works toward a safer Iraq

Maj. H.C. Payne is the Operations Officer of the Joint Area Support Group’s Security Directorate. Back in Virginia he serves as Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney of Amherst County. (Photo by Spc. Jeremy Mills, JASG Public Affairs)

By Spc. Jeremy Mills
Joint Area Support Group Public Affairs

BAGHDAD – He’s seen his fair share of injustice in the world and he’s always stepped up to fight against it.

The crusade of H. Cary Payne began more than a decade ago in the courtrooms of Southwest Virginia. As a gifted trial lawyer, he quickly earned “an outstanding reputation across the Commonwealth of Virginia as a passionate and fair prosecutor,” said Amherst County Commonwealth Attorney Stephanie Maddox.

Maddox was so impressed she hired Payne to work for her as a Deputy Commonwealth Attorney. Almost instantly, she witnessed a man who did everything in his power to protect those who needed it most.

“His real passion is trying cases in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court,” said Maddox.

Over the years, his tireless devotion to children and battered women has made him a recognized expert on the subject of victim’s rights.

“He lectures around the state to various agencies on the prosecution and investigation of domestic violence cases and cases involving children,” Maddox said.

“As a prosecutor I deal with victims of crime every day, helping them make decisions on how to move on with their lives and deal with what has happened to them,” said Payne.

Maddox calls the silver-haired prosecutor one of the most compassionate she’s ever seen with victims.

“Cary is able to put them at ease and make them feel comfortable, they trust him to help them,” Maddox said.

That trust was most evident back in April when Payne started training for his deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was in the middle of prosecuting a previously convicted child molester who had targeted an eight-year-old girl.

“She was very attached to Cary and cried when Cary told her that he was being deployed to Iraq,” Maddox said. “She really relied on Cary and felt as though he were her protector.”

Maddox handled the remainder of the case, convicting the defendant and sending him back to prison.

“The first thing she wanted to do was to text message Cary in Mississippi to let him know she had done it and testified,” said Maddox.

“I feel that it is my responsibility to keep our entire community safe from harm and violent criminals so that everyone has a safer environment to live in and raise their children,” said Payne.

Today, Maj. H.C. Payne brings the same sense of altruism to his duties as the Operations Officer of the Joint Area Support Group’s Security Directorate. It’s a position that includes co-managing the Baghdad Embassy Security Forces and its $70 Million budget.

“I help provide a safe environment for the Government of Iraq to perform their mission of running a sovereign country and provide security for the citizens of Iraq who live within the IZ,” said Payne.

Just like back at home, Payne passes on his knowledge to police serving in the International Zone.

“I give advice to law enforcement officials on a daily basis on how to handle crime scenes, how to further investigate cases for successful prosecutions,” Payne said.

His advice was also invaluable in assisting an Iraqi woman who recently complained of being raped by an Iraqi man.

“No one seemed to want to help her,” Payne said.

So in stepped the Deputy Commonwealth Attorney who always champions the cause of defenseless victims.

 “The original thought was it’s an Iraqi on Iraqi crime, the U.S. shouldn’t be involved,” Payne said.

But Payne was able to convince the American Security Forces to begin an investigation, which led to the Combat Service Hospital providing an examination and a physical evidence recovery kit. As a result, the FBI has been working with Iraqi Investigators and the suspect will be charged with rape.

“It was gratifying to do something for this young woman who had already been victimized once and didn’t need to be victimized again,” Payne said.

It was just one more example of his selfless nature with victims. It’s a string of goodwill Payne promises will continue through his tour in Iraq and return to the courtrooms of Virginia.

“My job as the Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney of Amherst County is the most fulfilling position I have ever had,” said Payne.

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