Showing posts with label About the Blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label About the Blog. Show all posts

Monday, May 21, 2012

100 and Counting . . .

Let Rainn Wilson (who plays Dwight Schrute onThe Office) ring in the celebration.
100 POSTS!

Three huge achievements mark this celebration:  1) I'm still employed, 2) My boss has not instructed the removal of any posts, and 3) More people view the blog everyday.

100 posts and I've learned something - I've got a lot to say. 

There's a line in every summation where an attorney can cross over from sharp and engaging rhetoric to over-the-top boredom.  Usually, a five minute window separates the two.

Hopefully, I'm still providing insights into the criminal justice system and the life of an ADA.  I do worry that your eyes are glossing over sometimes, but the stats tell a different story.

With the advice and well wishes of a current prosecutor and former prosecutor, I embarked on this writing journey.  The blog started with just one follower and two views (one being mine and the other my wife).  The follower was (of course) a family member.  100 posts later and there are 27 followers (most of whom I haven't given a birthday present to) and tens of thousands of views. 

Thank you for following.  I hope you are enjoying reading as much as I am writing.  I've got plenty in store for the coming months.  Many of the upcoming posts will allow you to contribute too.  I'll be interviewing a former Legal Aid Attorney in the Bronx and current Innocence Project attorney.  Towards the start of June, I'll be asking readers to submit any questions and we will get as many answered as we can.

There is a terrific community of bloggers out there, which I'm discovering daily.  Check out the blogroll on the right for their work.  Their support has helped the site grow and I hope I'm returning the favor.

There will be 100s more posts coming.  As always, please submit your questions and ideas either in a comment of via email. 

As per a reader request, later this week we'll discuss the life of a New York City ADA.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to Create an Assistant District Attorney

With Thanksgiving weekend just passing, it seems prudent to thank my boss for allowing me to start and continue this blog. There were only two rules when I started it: 1) don't comment on pending cases, and 2) don't get sued for defamation.

Seemed reasonable to me and so far neither have happened. Hopefully, this blog is informative on criminal law and the life of an ADA, and provides some entertainment.

As I promised some time ago, I'd let you know a little about my road to becoming an Assistant District Attorney. If this is the career you truly want, just look at my path and feel good about yourself. I'm sure you are further along than I ever was.

My progression of jobs: caterer, dishwasher, food server at an NFL stadium, produce stock clerk, cashier, movie theater concessionaire and usher, lobbyist firm intern, law firm intern, town warrant clerk, and substitute teacher. My favorite of the bunch is a tie between popping popcorn at a movie theater and stocking the shelves of a supermarket with some great people.

Education: Bachelor's in speech and language therapy. A year off to "find myself" then onto law school to "figure it out."

Being an ADA was never my main goal. Sometimes life pushes us where we are most useful, despite our opinions to the contrary.

Following that, I worked in two different district attorney's offices between New York City and upstate New York and have handled every type of case you can think of.

When I look back on the road I travelled to my current career, I can see the makings of a successful ADA. This job is all about how you relate to people. The doors of a DA's office open to gangsters, rape victims, doctors, the elderly, and child abuse victims the same way. You have to find that common ground with each of them. That means you must experience life outside of the office so that you can understand what life is like for that victim and that defendant.

A colleague of mine said today, "this is checkers, not chess." Most of this job is not about legal strategy, but getting to the correct result. It all comes down to people. The successful ADAs are compassionate first and vigorous litigators second. The unsuccessful ones forget compassion.

My jobs and experiences introduced me to every type of person this world has to offer. As I wound my way through them, I didn't see at the time how much they were preparing me for my current job. No one realizes the value of experience until it's over.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


A prosecutor holds a lot of power over the lives of citizens. There is a specific name for this - prosecutorial discretion. A District Attorney can choose who to charge with crimes, what crimes to charge, whether a plea bargain should be offered, and has the ability to recommend what sentence is appropriate to the court.

Think about that. One person has the power to bring charges against a citizen and present evidence to a grand jury. One person has the power to choose whether a citizen should be charged with a murder, manslaughter, or not charged at all because a killing was legally justified. One person has the power to offer a plea bargain to a reduced charge that may allow a person to seek treatment or probation whereas the higher charge could lead to state prison.

The powers are broad and each prosecutor must remember our ethics when making such decisions. There is a tremendous responsibility in this discretion and I watch the people in the district attorney's offices work hard everyday to remember this responsibility.

That is why I wanted to start this blog. There are wonderful people in law enforcement doing their absolute best to uphold the laws of this country and I hope to give the public a forum to understand exactly what we do. I'll use my discretion on here to talk about criminal law issues, the court system, police work, amusing court stories, books, and probably a lot of other issues that may relate to criminal prosecution.

The idea for this blog came to me when I answered a question for the thousandth time - What do you do? It's simple enough to answer. I usually tell people I work for the DA's office, or the District Attorney's Office. 999 times out of 1000 the response from the person asking the question is a variation of "how does it feel representing those criminals?"

Maybe they think DA stands for defense attorney? I usually follow this up with "No. Have you seen Law and Order? I'm like Jack McCoy. The prosecutor." Then, they nod to say they understand. I hope they do and the conversation ends while the questioner probably thinks I'm a little full of myself for acting like I'm a famous actor. It would take me hours to explain what a prosecutor does, which is more than the polite cocktail conversationalist was looking for. So I take the shortcut and give them an example. Now that the show is cancelled, I'm going to have to work on my answer. Or, we can get a few million people to read this blog and understand what a prosecutor does.

I hope to enlighten, inform, and amuse. I appreciate your feedback in any form you wish.