Mark Bennett has done a post about something mentioned in the Alan Bernstein article on Kelly Siegler where Kelly had written in her notes at Baby Prosecutor's School "make jury afraid".
I'm going to skip the part of my argument where I point out that the phrasing is open to interpretation and was just a note she made as part of her lecture on closing arguments.
NOTE: Kelly also wrote in the same notes "Make jury proud", meaning to make the jurors proud of you (the prosecutor) for the job you've done on behalf of the State of Texas.
Let's just assume for the sake of the argument that Kelly made a part of her lecture pointing out that sometimes a prosecutor should make a jury afraid during closing arguments.
What's so wrong with that?
A jury is called in to, first, make a decision over guilt or innocence, and then decide what is the appropriate punishment.
Some cases call for them to feel fear.
My personal belief is that when it comes to assessing punishment for a person who has been convicted of a crime that the jury should have a complete understanding of all factors involved. They should know what a victim went through. They should know the things that mitigate a Defendant's actions.
And when the case calls for it, they should damn well feel fear if fear is called for.
There should be moderation in all things, of course. Arguing that the guy who possessed a crack pipe is "coming to get you" would be ridiculous. But arguing that the person who sticks a gun in a stranger's face is a scary menace to the public is quite logical, if you ask me.
Mark argues that prosecutors are all "motivated by fear" and that they are "scared of the world".
I think he missed the boat with that argument.
Most prosecutors that I know are more motivated by anger than they are fear.
Anger that a person steals things rather than pays for them.
Anger that a person would sell crack on a corner rather than try to get a lawful job.
Anger that a kid with a gun views the world as their personal ATM machine.
Anger that a drunk driver puts the rest of the world at risk when they choose to drive.
Anger that life is so cheap to some people.
Anger that a person will hurt or sexually abuse a child.
Out of every defendant I've ever prosecuted, I don't think there have been more than a handful that I would say that I was personally scared of.
But I think I've been angry about the actions of almost all of them.
For those cases where I have felt fear of a defendant and the actions he or she did, you can bet your rear end that I tried to make the jury understand that fear and to factor it into their decisions when assessing a proper punishment.
And for that, I make no apologies.
Maybe that's just part of the D.A.'s Office "culture of arrogance".
Or maybe it's just part of representing the State of Texas.