After 24 years as a prosecutor you come to realize that the huge sense of responsibility you have to the public. It's also quite daunting to know that you hold someone's liberty in your hands every day. You have to decide whether someone is going to jail, or will remain free. Some nights are sleepless when you are in trial, realizing that if you fail to convince a jury of guilt, you are deemed a failure.
Everyone seems to lump all prosecutors together and refer to them as "the government'. Whenever there are high-profile cases in the news, you never hear much about the people who are there representing "the people." You always hear about the defense attorney, what moves he has made in court, how he has cross-examined witnesses and his ability to argue the law. What you rarely hear about is the prosecutor, who has presented the evidence, dealt with the family of a victim, worked hard to make sure all their ducks were in a row to prove the case "beyond a reasonable doubt."
You rarely hear about the pretrial meetings with victims, the late nights on the phone with witnesses, the stress and pressure to not let the families down or the police department or agents that put the case together. Never do you hear about a prosecutor who has worked so diligently, gone before the court only to have crucial evidence thrown out because of a problem in the law. Does the public ever know how many prosecutors have sat in their offices crying because they believed so much in a case and the jury said "not guilty"? How about a prosecutor who has a great case, great evidence and a victim that refuses to testify in court because their sex life will now be known to a bunch of strangers? That's the side of a prosecutor that nobody chooses to explore. That's the life that some of us lead.
Some of us have not come to work for a few days after losing a case that we should have won. Some of us have had to endure the wrath of a judge who just "doesn't like the case". We are believers in the system, but sometimes it can be too much. My life as a Sex Crimes prosecutor has been unbelievable in so many ways. I am a lawyer, therapist, friend and confidant all rolled into one. I am the person who has to hear all day long about little kids being penetrated by pedophiles, beaten my parents and neglected by family. I am the person who has to be part savior and part realist. I am the one who has to go home at night and think of the disgusting acts that were performed upon these innocent kids. I am the one that lies awake at night hoping that I can send a gross pedophile to prison for life. I am the woman who when I think I am having the crappiest of days, takes the time to recall the horrific stories I heard that day and realize I can get through it.
I am a prosecutor through and through, and I think "we" deserve to be known as someone who has true feelings, rather than just one who stands in court with a big map on my back known as "the state." We are people too, trying to make the place we live in as safe as possible.
It's a tough gig, but someone's got to do it.
Follow Stacey Honowitz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@staceyhonowitz