23 August 2012
My experiences in Polk County are consistently bad. We have a slew of prosecutors who personalize their cases. You know if you have practiced any time at all, you don't win them all. However, some prosecutors think they should and consider it an unacceptable affront to their dignity and professional capacity if defense counsel tells them that they won't stipulate, they won't plead, and if they want a conviction, either a judge or a jury will be required to decide whether the defendant did what he is charged doing. The idea that the defendant may actually not have committed the crime appears to be irrelevant. In my case yesterday, my client said he didn't do it, the witness with him said he didn't do it and I actually suggested that the prosecutor speak with the witness which offer was rejected out-of-hand. In addition we had the threat of filing a similar charge from conduct supposedly admitted by the defendant when being arrested, issuing a warrant, and setting a bond--this because we wouldn't plead guilty. As it turned out, the charge was dismissed and no new charge was filed. The recalcitrant prosecutor gives every appearance of now and in the future being difficult to deal with since we rejected every overture to bend over and take it like a man--so to speak. A good prosecutor will make his or her own determination as to whether a charge should be prosecuted. Because law enforcement has filed a charge does not mean it must be prosecuted. It is difficult for prosecutors, young ones especially, to tell the law enforcement official that filed the charge that it will not be prosecuted. In our case it appeared that the prosecutor was apologetically explaining why the charge was to be dismissed. Don't do that. If it is a bullshit charge, dump it. Law enforcement must learn not to personalize their cases just as prosecutors should.