Letter: DA’s job: To do what’s right
The assertions made in Roland McLean’s recent column contained no actual facts or examples and appear to take my opposition’s rhetoric as gospel. I have never met or spoken with Mr. McLean about his concerns or positions. He seems to believe that the system groups law enforcement and the district attorney into one big boat. This is not how the system works or should work.
Our criminal justice system is three-tiered; the police, the prosecutor and the court. This divide allows for checks and balances to ensure that we weed out the innocent, charge a case that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and ensure that only the guilty are convicted.
Individual freedom is very important to all of us and we are horrified when the system gets it wrong. Law enforcement agencies operate within the boundaries of establishing probable cause while I am bound by the ethical standard of reaching proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This differing standard alone creates a divide.
Law enforcement is tasked to make quick decisions to meet their public safety considerations. My office has the duty to take the time to carefully review the case. That time allows us to evaluate the strength and weakness of a case including the legalities of any search and how a jury would view it.
The courts will examine the legalities and the evidence. At sentencing, the court will look at whether we are dealing with a career criminal or a circumstance where a good person just did a bad thing.
Please be aware that my office does approve the vast majority of warrants. Plea agreements are essential if we are going to resolve the 750 felony cases and thousands of traffic and misdemeanor cases that are filed every year within a reasonable time frame. The vast majority of cases are resolved satisfactorily to the victim and the involved law enforcement agency.
In this day and age, where the actions of police have been questioned throughout this nation, having too close of a relationship between law enforcement and prosecution is being criticized. The public and the law demand careful review of all the cases that the police bring in. The public demands that my office listen to the defense and consider the cases as any lawyer would. They also expect that my office will filter those cases that cannot be proven. The DA must never be a rubber stamp of the police.
I have proven that I can be tough when necessary to protect the public (See Yurick Hughes, habitual criminal, and the Robin McMillan prosecution, for example). I have also proven that my toughness extends to doing what is right and not being afraid to tell the police and the public my position, succinctly and bluntly. Using good judgment and doing what is right is my job, no matter how unpopular it may make me.
Ninth Judicial District attorney
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