What the hell is going on with this department?
~ D.A. Dutton

District Attorney Dutton was an attorney who appeared in 3 episodes of the television series In the Heat of the Night.

Dutton was portrayed by the late Christopher Allport.


Dutton was the district attorney in the community of Sparta, Mississippi. He was an ambitious DA who was less interested in justice and in making a name for himself in political circles. When Sparta police officer Bubba Skinner was accused of rape by two women Dutton became determined to prove Skinner guilty of the crime, figuring that putting a cop in prison would increase his standing with the local black community, going so far as to interfere with the investigation into the rapes and to pull Bill Gillespie off the case. Virgil Tibbs was able to find the actual rapist - a local store owner. With the actual rapist in custody Dutton complained it might be hard to prosecute the rapist but felt he could boast to his friends at the Lions Club that he was putting a rapist behind bars.

A few weeks later after a day of drinking Dutton decided to drive while in an intoxicated state, and hit a car carrying several teenage girls near the local high school. Three of the girls were killed and one was left in a permanent vegetative state. He convinced one of his friends who was a sales manager at a local car dealership to hide the car until he could quietly dispose of the vehicle.

During the course of the investigation the Sparta PD determined that the car involved in the accident was a late model GM. While searching to see if a mirror or other replacement parts had been ordered Sgt. Skinner came across the sales manager, who had hidden the car in an old shop building. The manager claimed the building was locked up as it was being used by a car collector.

Getting a warrant Skinner and Sweet checked out the building and found the car they were looking for hidden in a back room. The license plates had been removed, however the vehicle's VIN plate had not been removed. Using that the Sparta PD were able to trace the car straight back to Dutton.

Tibbs, retired State Trooper Tom Dugan, and Skinner determined that Dutton was hanging out with his friends at a local restaurant, and confronted him there.

Talking to the mother of one of the victims later, Dugan said he wasn't sure how much of a punishment Dutton would actually face. Dugan felt the amount of punishment Dutton would receive was dependent on how good a case they presented, if Dutton was able to use his political ties, and ultimately if the judge and jury were drinkers.