Brace yourselves, folks. The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight did something right last week, and I'm acknowledging it.
Starting last week, numerous Felony District Courts began getting pre-commit attorneys as Felony "Fours".
For those of you not familiar with the terminology, a "Pre-Commit" is a soon-to-be lawyer who is just waiting on the results of his or her Bar Exam results before they can get sworn in and all officially lawyerlike. The District Attorney's Office hires them after a lengthy interview process and they begin conditional employment with a Bar Card (it's kind of like a Learner's Permit for lawyers. You can drive, but a licensed attorney has to be sitting with you). The condition is that the Pre-Commit has to pass the Bar Exam.
In the past, Pre-Commits who were hired by the Office went directly to the Misdemeanor Courts where they filled the role of a Misdemeanor Three -- trying DWI cases with no accidents or breath tests, small marijuana and theft cases, etc. It wasn't a bad idea, because they could get a couple of trials under their belt before they were even bona fide lawyers.
However, although starting a pre-commit could get some trial experience, what starting in Misdemeanor failed to provide them with was some good old fashioned Perspective.
In one of my posts last year, I pointed out that rising up through the ranks as the D.A.'s Office promotion ladder is structured was a good way to gradually get more comfortable trying progressively serious cases. The downfall of that is that the prosecutor is perpetually at the zenith of his or her most important cases tried.
I pointed out the example that I started in the Justice of the Peace Division and by God, I was one hell of a crusader against them No-Seatbelt-Wearing Bastards. Had I spent some time in the Felony Division before heading down to Class C court, the speeding ticket cases might not have seemed quite as proportional to a Capital Murder to me.
The Gang's idea of sending the Pre-Commits into the Felony Courts first is not one that they originated, but they do deserve credit for implementing it.
A Baby Pre-Commit now has the benefit of getting his or her first lessons in prosecution from a seasoned Felony Chief who has been prosecuting for years. These are the men and women of the D.A.'s Office who have actually tried the murders, sexual assaults, and aggravated robberies and have a lot to teach. The Pre-Commits might actually get to learn how to truly work up a case, and ultimately learn the difference from a good case and a bad case.
But the real value in it, in my opinion, is that the Pre-Commits under the new policy will realize that there is a tremendous difference between a murder and a misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and there truly is not such a thing as a "Capital DWI" trial. That type of perspective can shape the general attitude of the prosecutors in the Trial Bureau, while making them better at their jobs at the same time.
So, good call this time, Gang.
There, now I've actually written a post complimenting the new administration. The Final Sign of the CJC Apocalypse has arrived . . .