Smiling man in a dress shirt and tie

Calvin Dollarhide interview

Monday, January 25, 2021 – 9:40 a.m.

Calvin Dollarhide is an assistant district attorney in the Yoknpatawpha County District Attorney's Office.

Detective Armstrong spoke with him in his office.


  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Calvin Dollarhide

Detective Armstrong: Hey, Calvin. You got a few minutes?

Calvin Dollarhide: Hi, Ted. It's a heck of a day, isn't it? I have to be in court in a little bit, but I can spare you a few minutes.

Detective Armstrong: Thanks. Let me just shut this door.

Calvin Dollarhide: Oh, so it's going to be that kind of conversation, is it? Can't say I'm surprised. Have a seat. What can I do for you?

Detective Armstrong: You know we're investigating Spenser's murder?

Calvin Dollarhide: Yeah, I still can't believe it. I know prosecutors make people mad sometimes— well, a lot of the time, but I can't believe someone would take it this far. It really makes you think, I can tell you.

Detective Armstrong: Think about what?

Calvin Dollarhide: Going into private practice.

Detective Armstrong: C'mon, Cal. You'll never quit. You're too good a prosecutor.

Calvin Dollarhide: You may be right, but that doesn't mean I don't think about it. Anyway, I'm sure you didn't come to talk about my career plans. What's up?

Detective Armstrong: What can you tell me about this thing between Spenser and Jill Ross?

Calvin Dollarhide: You mean the fact that they hated each other, and everyone knew it, but we all pretended it wasn't true?

Detective Armstrong: Yeah, that. What's the story there?

Calvin Dollarhide: I tried to stay out of it. That's a hornet's nest I want no part of.

Detective Armstrong: Why did she continue working here after the election?

Calvin Dollarhide: If you ask me, they were both a little too committed to the “keep your enemies closer” philosophy. They both probably would've benefited from having more space between them, but then how would they keep tabs on what the other one was doing?

Detective Armstrong: That must've made things tense around the office?

Calvin Dollarhide: Most people around here are like me. They try to stay out of it.

Detective Armstrong: It can't be easy to do that all the time.

Calvin Dollarhide: A lot of this job is dealing with difficult people: defendants, defense attorneys, witnesses, experts, you name it. It's all about figuring out how to navigate the situation to get what you need from each person. It works the same within the office as it does with any of those other people.

Detective Armstrong: What's your take on this question of underage drinkers over 18?

Calvin Dollarhide: Spenser wanted to throw the book at them, teach them a lesson early in life to get them back on the straight and narrow before they went too far astray.

Detective Armstrong: And Jill?

Calvin Dollarhide: Jill wants to give them a chance to mend their ways without leaving a black mark on their record that might derail their prospects down the road and send them off on the wrong path.

Detective Armstrong: What do you think?

Calvin Dollarhide: Both approaches have their merits. The best thing would probably be to decide which one works best on a case-by-case basis rather than making a single, across-the-board policy.

Detective Armstrong: Maybe you should be the district attorney?

Calvin Dollarhide: Ha! No, thank you.

Detective Armstrong: What do you know about this business with Alderman Collins?

Calvin Dollarhide: I can't talk to you about that, Ted. I'm sorry.

Detective Armstrong: So there is some kind of investigation that involves him?

Calvin Dollarhide: That's what they say on the news.

Detective Armstrong: What about that? Is that the DA's office leaking to the press?

Calvin Dollarhide: None of us are authorized to speak to reporters as a general rule. Except for the District Attorney himself, of course. Or herself, as the case may be.

Detective Armstrong: Is there anyone outside of the DA's office who might know anything they could talk to the press about?

Calvin Dollarhide: Hypothetically speaking, I have heard of people who, when they find out they're the subject of an investigation, go to the media themselves to try to preempt any negative publicity. They portray themselves as beleaguered victims of a politically-motivated overzealous prosecutor to get the public's sympathy on their side before the facts come out.

Detective Armstrong: I hear you. Any idea when the facts, if there are any, about Alderman Collins might come out?

Calvin Dollarhide: As you know, Ted, investigations sometimes move very slowly because gathering and verifying information can be very time-consuming.

Detective Armstrong: Gotcha. Do you know a guy named Louis Watson?

Calvin Dollarhide: Local attorney. Owns a liquor store.

Detective Armstrong: What was his beef with Spenser?

Calvin Dollarhide: If he has one, my guess is it was about the liquor store. Spenser wasn't just cracking down on the underage drinkers. He was going after the people who sold to them too.

Detective Armstrong: And Louis Watson is one of them?

Calvin Dollarhide: I'm not involved in the crackdown on the alcohol sellers.

Detective Armstrong: But you still know who he is, so … all right. I'm with you. Moving on. You ever heard of a guy named Kyle Ferguson?

Calvin Dollarhide: Doesn't ring a bell.

Detective Armstrong: So, Calvin, you've prosecuted a lot of homicide cases. You know a lot of the people around Spenser. Who do you think killed him?

Calvin Dollarhide: I wish I knew. I don't think anyone who works here did it.

Detective Armstrong: Not even Jill?

Calvin Dollarhide: I wouldn't think it was her style, but there could be things about that whole mess that I don't know. If all those homicide cases have taught me anything, it's that anyone is capable of murder given the right circumstances.

Detective Armstrong: Sad but true. Do you know of anyone Spenser prosecuted or was planning to prosecute that we ought to take a look at?

Calvin Dollarhide: I don't know of anybody off the top of my head, but I'll give it some thought.

Detective Armstrong: I'd appreciate that. Listen, I know you've got a lot to do, so I'll get out of your hair. Thanks for taking the time. I'll be in touch.

Calvin Dollarhide: Thanks, Ted. And I hope you get this guy sooner rather than later. We'll all rest easier once this shooter is behind bars.

Detective Armstrong: I hear you. We're working on it.

Interview ended – 9:57 a.m.



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