The prosecution character in Scott Turow's latest bestseller, Reversible Errors, reflected as follows:
"And the brute truth of prosecution was that you rarely made anybody's existence much better. You stopped the bleeding. You prevented more pain. But you didn't walk out of the building at night expecting to see any trees you had planted."
What thoughts do you have about this view of our role?
[This message was edited by Ken Sparks on 12-02-02 at .]
Posts: 1029 | Location: Fort Worth, TX | Registered: June 25, 2001
When in a dark mood, I think of prosecution as being like that children's arcade game where you try to hit the gophers that pop up with a hammer or club. No matter how many times you hit the gopher, another pops up. Yet, society demands that each gopher that pops up be hit, so hitting the gophers is important because society says so. So you keep hitting gophers.
Keeping with Turow's tree theme, I'd say that someone has to keep the weeds from choking off the young and vulnerable saplings else there are no more trees, period.
Maybe we should consider prosecutors to be society's "weed-pullers" -- I know it doesn't sound glamorous, but we've probably all had that feeling. And we all know what happens when there are no gardeners and the weeds run amok ...
Posts: 2403 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002
I guess I'd rather be called a weed puller or gardener than a hoe . . .
Is it right to say that we don't solve society's problems, but that we hold the line against those who would destroy our society so that others can solve the problems? After all, poverty is in many ways the root of much of the problem. We can't solve poverty, but we can hold the line against the murderers, robbers, and rapists so that teachers, community leaders, and business leaders can cure poverty, and diminish the ranks of the criminals?
Posts: 2129 | Location: McKinney, Texas, USA | Registered: February 15, 2001
Prosecuting is an honorable profession. Prosecutors stand up for justice. A good prosecutor is the type of person that can find the right punishment for the crime, not just a conviction. A good prosecutor seeks to punish the offender for the law he has broken, taking into account the victim's sense of justice, society's sense of justice, and the defendant's sense of justice. In most cases, each party's sense of justice is opposed to the other party.
In the end, very few people thank you, and the courtroom will be filled with new criminals at the next hearing. However, a good prosecutor is somewhat a philosopher also. A good prosecutor knows that virtue is its own reward, and pursuing justice is a virtuous profession.
I heard this on a better unamed TV program and liked it. I tracked down the script and copied it for my wall:
"There are heroes in this world. They're called District Attorneys. They don't get to have clients, people who smile at them at the end of the trial, who look them in the eye and say, 'Thank you.' Nobody's there to appreciate the district attorney because we work for the state, and our gratitude comes only from knowing there's a tide out there --- a tide the size of a tsunami coming out of a bottomless cesspool, a tide called crime, which, if left unchecked, will rob every American of his freedom, a tide which strips individuals of the privilege of being able to walk down a dark street or take $20 out of an ATM machine without fear of being mugged. All Congress does is talk, but it's the district attorney who grabs his sword, who digs into the trenches and fights the fight, who dogs justice day after day after day without thanks, without so much as a simple pat on the back, but we do it. We do it. We do it because we are the crusaders, the last frontier of American justice, knowing that if a man cannot feel safe, he can never, never feel free."
Now we're getting serious. The one that I've kept on my wall for 8 years is a blurb from a 1994 copy of something I think was called "Judge's Journal."
quote: As you live the rest of your professional life, it will not do to assume that someone else will demonstrate the key convictions, that someone else will represent the poor, that someone else will protect civil rights, enforce the law, preserve culture, transmit value, maintain civilization, and defend freedom. You must never forget that what you do not value about your noble profession will not be valued, that what you do not remember will not be remembered, that what you do not change will not be changed, and that what you do not do will not be done.
Now, alot of lawyers can probably latch onto that one, but it touched me enough to copy it when I saw it, and I often peel back the other things on my bulletin board in order to read it again.
Posts: 2129 | Location: McKinney, Texas, USA | Registered: February 15, 2001
I sure like the notion that there can be no higher calling than the pursuit of justice. That is the hallmark of a free society. It comes in a bunch of different forms, but in any form it is a noble pursuit. I started in civil practice, and I never felt that justice was the objective.
And I believe to a moral certainty that some of the decisions I have made as a prosecutor, and some of the convictions and sentences I have gotten, have restored order and represented justice.
I guess there is some truth to the view that we work in the remains of the day. But prosecutors also get the best stories to tell at parties, so that's got to be good, right?
That quote was from an episode of the Practice and the character that made the quote was the prosecutor that was killed. I used to watch that show on a regular basis but I got tired of pro-defense bias. The defense was constantly getting clearly guilty people acquitted and they only people the State convicted were innocent.
Posts: 261 | Location: Fort Worth, Texas | Registered: February 21, 2001
I haven't checked out the forums in a while, so I'm playing catch-up.
There is a tremendous irony in our jobs. In the law abiding community-at-large I believe we are considered the good guys -- perhaps the last bastion of "good" lawyers. I think we're considered important people who are to be respected, commended, and appreciated for the job we do. But while we are actually doing our jobs I often feel like the most vilified people on earth. The defendants hate us. Their lawyers hate us. To the suprise of many, the cops often hate us. And even the victims hate us in many cases. Frustrating, to say the least. But I do believe we provide some measure of help to our communities. And as rare as the pats on the back are in this job, they are tremendously rewarding when they come. In fact, the last one I got was just a couple of weeks ago -- from (of all people) a young man that I sent to boot camp. I didn't recognize him, but I knew his name. He stopped me in the parking lot because he wanted to shake my hand and thank me for giving him a chance to turn his life around. And from what I've learned he actually has. Maybe there's hope.
I disagree that we rarely make anyone's existence better. All you have to do is look at the victim's face when a jury renders a guilty verdict to know that you have made an incredible difference in that victim's life. Every note of thanks,every hug and every poorly drawn stick figure that you and I have recieved prove that we really are the good guys who are willing to stand up to the creeps and bullies who are out there destroying innocent lives.Don't ever forget to hang on to those momentos so you can remember how much what we do means to the victims.Hopefully all of you have had the same responses from your victums. If you haven't then you must feel very much like Don Quixote tilting at windmills.
Posts: 10 | Location: Beeville,Texas | Registered: August 03, 2001