A Prosecutor with Integrity


A prosecutor was frustrated. She had not yet ever conducted a trial. All of her defendants had pled guilty to all original charges. And she was prosecuting people in organized crime for an organized crime strike force.

I assume people in organized crime are more likely to make money at it (assuming they are or do as alleged) and more likely to hire more resourceful defense lawyers and to follow their advice for winning. Yet they were pleading guilty for this prosecutor to all original charges.

That tells me she probably was not overcharging crimes in her indictments. She said people around her in her office were being fired and she thought she might be fired soon.

I can only guess at this: Reporting to a higher level, she probably had to report her achievements in part by showing how much she’s cleaning up her jurisdiction, by listing what her defendants were charged with. If other prosecutors overcharged their defendants, she could have looked underproductive by comparison, which could have made her ripe for firing, but if that ground did not meet legal standards then another way could have been to fire people below her and then her.

However, I read a newspaper article and found she started trying a case a few years later, as still an organized crime strike force prosecutor. So, she either wasn’t fired or was and was rehired. She only got part of the way through the newer prosecution case when the defendant pled guilty. I don’t know if there was any reduction in charge/s for the plea.

She eventually went into private practice in another state and eventually apparently retired.

For a different prosecutor and two police officers, one prosecutor remembered this decades after the event. This is approximate. At a local food place near a courthouse, he overheard two police officers talking about a case. It was not this prosecutor’s own case and the officers were unfamiliar to the prosecutor. One recounted "what he had apparently said during his testimony that day" and he "was telling the other officer what to say in his testimony." This prosecutor found the prosecutor for the case the officers were involved in and both prosecutors, the defense lawyer, and the judge met in the judge’s chambers, or office, where this prosecutor reported what the officers were doing. The outcome is forgotten but it was likely a dismissal of the charges.

My guess is that this was about a possible tampering with a witness, a police officer by another, and that both prosecutors were revealing to the judge that one prosecutor’s own side’s testimony was unreliable and not probative of guilt. That may have left too little evidence for a conviction, and no one waited for the defense attorney to try to force the issue.

I recently thought I might need an attorney for a case that might not demand unusual legal skill (I wasn’t sure either way) but for which many attorneys would simply bring a simple finish by lying about facts. I had forgotten about him and I figured she in particular was someone who wouldn’t do that. Not overcharging crimes when it would often be easy sounds like integrity to me. But, alas, she had moved to a faraway state and, roughly forty years after her time prosecuting, she’s likely had it with taking cases any more.