BarbellDreams wrote:A question for all the prosecutors out there:
What was your experience at your very first trial? What kind of case was it, what happened, did you screw up, was your heart rate in quadruple digits the whole time, etc?
Depends on what you mean, my first trial as a prosecutor was as a 2nd chair. Armed Burglary of a Structure - discharge of a firearm, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon x2 - discharge of a firearm, carjacking, Grand Theft. It was a wild ride in front of one of the toughest judges we had with one of the best prosecutors. I was terrified I was going to fuck it up, but I managed to hold my own with the judge. It's still one of my fondest memories (though explain to me how the jury came back burg structure - firearm discharge but not ARMED Burg Structure - firearm discharge).
My first 1st chair jury trial was a petit theft based on principal theory. Defendant had rejected diversion (Which would have kept her record clean). Defendant testified and I destroyed her on the stand - people still quote it to this day. Guilty, judge maxed her out.
In my circuit there is a certain level of ... animosity ... between the state and the PDs. The PDs have quotas (must file x number of motions, must have x number of trials, etc) and it really prevents negotiation and resolution of cases. We revoke offers after motions - which doesn't help them meet their quotas. We give offers at arraignment and get no responses until pre-trial conference (the calendar call before we pick the jury a few days later). Our local PD office is just a mess, IMO. People here have said they would prefer a PD over a Private - not in my circuit!
Some PDs are just doing their job, but I've had stupid shit taken to trial. We're more of a burn the ground/salt the earth type of division - the felony divisions at my office vary widely in sentencings/trials. Part of that is who your judge is and who your chief is in your division. They set the tone. If your chief is a hardliner you have to keep up, if they are a cream puff you need to give low offers because your boss is going to undercut you - or the judge is going to do it.
I've had an old as balls case (Defendant was capias for a few years) with a deceased VIC go to trial. We won. We had made him a sweet time served offer before trial and he rejected it. I have someone facing a minimum/mandatory life in prison, with 13 open burglaries and a rap sheet a mile long. PD wants single digit prison and probation. How about no way in hell, fuckface. I've been very unimpressed with most of the PDs in my circuit. I've had PDs tell me not to give them an offer because then they will have to convey it to their client and talk to them.
Discovery - we give PD everything we have, unless it deals with Confidential Informants, there are special procedures for that.
Rehabilitation/punishment/etc - I usually give a Defendant a chance at doing drug treatment in their first few cases, but after the 3rd delivery case or nth possession case - I'm done. I agree with whomever said earlier people aren't sitting in jail on simple possession cases. If they don't have a long record - they get offered probation. We make alternative jail offers when the Defendant KNOWS he cannot complete probation. I honestly don't give a shit about you getting treatment at that point. By the point they are getting jail, they've had multiple chances to get treatment. We always take into consideration mitigation that's provided to us - but I really don't give a shit that your client's been diagnosed with ADHD - ADHD didn't cause him to break into someone's house.
Drugs being categorized as a non-violent crime in the media makes me roll my eyes. The individual uses may just be addicts but they are giving $ to the traffickers and the dealers who sure as fuck aren't running around with a Red Rider BB Gun to protect their shit. People get murdered over drugs, people get shot over drugs, innocent people get caught in the crossfire, and I'm not cutting the people who subsidize this violence a break. You want to get it legalized, go ahead, vote on it. But don't break the law and expect me to ignore it. I'm all for treatment - but only up to a point.
Hiring - no one cares about grades, moot court is good. Knowing someone is even better. We can always pick out a political hire - they can't hide. If you're a political hire, but you know your shit - then it causes no problem in the office.
Stats - I'd say mid level city, our jurisdiction covers about 1.2 million people. My case load is about 225 which is high for our office. There's a unicorn in our office that has 90 cases, but that's through a combo of weak offers and a great judge. I get to work at 8ish, leave about 7:30PM. I like my job, I like my colleagues. I have maybe 1-3 trials a month. idk my win/loss rate, to be honest, I could look it up, but I honestly don't keep track of it like some people. I take the cases that need to be tried ... and the ones my boss makes me take to trial. I'm not dumping a case because there's a chance of a not guilty. I make a fair offer based on the facts and the Defendant's history, and if they reject it, we're going to trial.