Anonymous User wrote:Good luck keeping your ADA job in Bumbfuck, Alabama. You will stand out like a sore thumb if you're not willing to (1) disproportionately use peremptories on blacks in the venire and (2) come up with pretextual reasons for striking blacks for cause. But don't let this prevent you from following your dreams of being the first Alabama prosecutor to fight against racism-- maybe you can pull a four figure book deal with a local publisher when you get fired. It might even be in the upper four figures if you time your Atticus Finch-like stand with Martin Luther King Jr. Day or, as they've designated it in Alabama, Robert E. Lee/Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
You will likely have enormous discretion to say go or no go on cases in your first year on the job. If you are assigned to misdemeanor cases you will be the attorney in charge of those cases and will decide to go to trial, to negotiate or to drop. If you are not assigned to cases you will probably have even more power to decide, negotiate or drop because you will be assigned to "filing" which sounds boring but is pretty important. The filing person decides which charge is prosecutable based on the facts available after arrest. It is not glamorous but you basically write a short memo saying which facts line up with which element and which are incompatible with higher charges.
You also won't be the first person to be opposed to racism in the country. Or in Alabama. Or most likely in whatever office you are in. Lots of prosecutors want to put criminals in jail. That doesn't make them racist. It means they are normal people. But if you come across racists you can and should call them out on it - which you can do as a defense attorney too. But it is a matter of effectiveness. A defense attorney who calls out racism in the prosecutors office is just a defense attorney. A prosecutor who does so is a whistleblower. Sometimes that makes a difference, but I'll be the first to admit that whistleblowers need more protections.
More importantly and more broadly, if you do not have what it takes to call it like you see it then don't become a prosecutor. Other lawyers do not have a duty that justice shall be done. If you want to argue on behalf of a person then represent individuals. That is what I am doing now. I have no trouble arguing before a judge that my client is not guilty even when I know damn well that my client did something that I find morally wrong. But if you want to demand justice, then you can only do it as a prosecutor. Even a judge can't choose not to prosecute. A defense attorney can't demand that we shouldn't prosecute this case. In our system, the decision to prosecute or not belongs almost solely with the prosecutor. That is an enormous burden or an enormous discretion depending on how you approach it.
If you think that public defense attorneys or defense attorneys broadly are not racist, and you want to surround yourself with non-racists then try defense work. But my experience has been that defense attorneys are pretty much human. They cut deals, negotiate, maintain their reputations, fight, and give up like anyone else does. Most are honorable. Some are shitbags. The system overwhelms the best intentions of most of them, but not always. It is a good life if you can stay true to yourself.
So my position is the same. If you don't want to deal with racist prosecutors, then you should be the prosecutor. If you can be the guy who fights against a system that is flawed and racist and overwhelming, while being true to yourself then do it. Either way it makes no sense to discourage people from becoming prosecutors.