Kelly Siegler authored another post on the Women In Crime blog website (which if you haven't read yet, you should. It is really really good.)
The topic, I'm sure will generate a lot of conversation, because it stands for the rarely asserted position that prosecutors aren't too aggressive, but, in fact, often not aggressive enough. Now, I'm sure that this proposition will have Mark Bennett, Grits for Breakfast, and PJ spitting coffee on their latest edition of the ACLU Newsletter.
Critics of prosecutors (especially those prosecutors in Harris County) are much more fond of pointing out how prosecutors will attempt any hurdle just to convict, but there is a flip side to that tired old argument.
Sometimes prosecutors are reluctant to take on cases where they are going to have difficulty proving that case. One of my friends who is a prosecutor seemed to take offense at that premise, but I think that everyone who has ever been a prosecutor would have to admit to pleading out a case for less than it was worth because it was going to be very difficult to prove on occasion.
Now before my more Liberal Friends start screaming: "Well you should be reluctant to try cases that you can't prove!", think about it for a second in terms of the truly serious cases. Not the misdemeanor thefts -- the sexual assaults, the murders, the injury to a child cases.
These are the cases that Kelly was talking about. The ones that prosecutors really should be bending over backwards to try to prove if they believe the Defendant is the person responsible for the crime. And, no, my Liberal Friends, there is nothing wrong with working hard to make those cases. There's nothing wrong with re-examining and re-investigating those minute details while trying to get a conviction. It's a lot of leg work, but it's that kind of leg work that was the motivation for a lot of us to become prosecutors in the first place.
And who knows? Sometimes that kind of leg work pays off. If you don't believe me, just ask David Temple.
I think an implied message also exists in Kelly's posting, and that is that sometimes victims' families, and even the detectives themselves will have to keep on kicking and screaming to get a case accepted and put before a jury.
That message may be even more relevant as we are about to have an elected District Attorney who has never tried a criminal case as a prosecutor. Sometimes the victims may need to keep kicking and screaming to get their day in court when a case seems, on first glance, to be impossible to prove.
But that's just my take on it.