Us v. Them: A Prosecutor’s Perspective

A prosecutor who wishes to remain anonymous has this to say in response to my Us v. Them II post of last week:

I do think that Mckinney’s statements were too harsh, especially the part about how ADA’s prosecute the innocent. Currently, I only deal with robbery cases and violent serious assaults. Regardless of the outcome, there are no real winners. Some of the cases involve “real” victims, People who have been wronged in some way. When we (ADA’s ) go to trial, we are saying that you will be held accountable for your actions. Does that mean that all defendants are evil wicked people who can never repent? Of course not. It means that you have to follow the rules of society like everyone else. Everyone deserves to be safe in their home or to be safe while they’re walking down the street.

We don’t prosecute the innocent. I have never gone to trial on someone I thought was not guilty. That is an important statement. It doesn’t mean I think everyone charged is guilty. Our elected D.A. gives us wide discretion in how we handle cases. I have dismissed plenty of cases b/c the evidence wasn’t there to proceed.

So there.

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0 responses to “Us v. Them: A Prosecutor’s Perspective”

  1. I’m glad to hear that there are county atty offices out there that give “wide discretion,” but fear that there are plenty that don’t. For example, read last year’s Supreme Court case Ceballos v. Garcetti and see what happened to D.A. Ceballos when he used his prosecutorial discretion to investigate an officer’s affidavit.

    I don’t remember all the facts specifically, but I do remember that he:
    (1) investigated an officer’s affidavit and found it to be falsified
    (2) Took steps to stop what he believed was a prosecution based on a false affidavit.
    (3) Was transferred to another unit shortly afterwards.
    (4) Was fired for speaking out against this treatment in his new “Siberian” assignment.

    I’m glad to hear there are elected D.A.’s who afford discretion, and who dismiss when they lack a good faith belief in guilt. But I fear that there are a lot of “Nifong’s” still out there, pressuring their prosecutors to push issues that gain them political advantage.

    I love being a criminal defense lawyer, but I’m often glad I came to this side simply because the public defenders I work with seem to have a lot more discretion and fewer people looking over their shoulders than their counterparts in the county attorneys office.

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