As a prosecutor the day to day grind of the job can become exhausting. You are dealing with hundreds of cases, calls, defendants, victims, parents, girlfriends, boyfriends, and the list goes on and on. As a defendant in a criminal case or a defense attorney, you obviously want to be in the prosecutor’s good graces. There are ways to do accomplish this and there are ways to just get yourself into even more trouble. If you want the best outcome for your case, and simultaneously a friendly relationship with the prosecutor: Be polite, be respectful, and be patient. If you want avoid getting yourself or your client in “hot water” here is a “Top Ten” list of prosecutor pet peeves:
Do not whisper, catcall, or may any sound effect toward the prosecutor
Do not whisper “ma’am…. ma’am!!!” or “Sir… Sir!!!” from the gallery or from behind the prosecutor. It truly is the easiest way to get under the skin of the prosecutor. The prosecutor knows you are there. When he or she is ready for you, they will call your name and talk to you. Whispering or trying to get the prosecutor’s attention before he r she is ready will just delay the process and annoy the prosecutor.
Do not hover
If you are an attorney, do not creep up behind the prosecutor and stand in his or her shadow while they are getting situated or working on another case. Give him or her space. They appreciate it. Check in with the prosecutor when they have a moment to talk, and then wait patiently. They know you have other places to be, they know you don’t want to be there, they know your case is important. That goes for everyone in the courtroom. Just be respectful of his or her space.
Do not tell the prosecutor what they are going to do
Do not come in hot and demand a reduction or a dismissal. If there is a reason you are seeking a reduction or a dismissal, ask the prosecutor if you can talk to him or her about the case. Then, briefly explain the situation and ASK if they are inclined to work it out. Do not tell them what they are going to do. Ultimately, it’s their decision. If you demand a reduction, the prosecutor may not be willing to work with you.
Do not come at the prosecutor with a life story
If you have a lot to talk about, let the prosecutor know that you need to talk to him or her. If he or she just wants to know what case you’re on and you launch into a narrative, that is just going to delay the process. If the prosecutor just wants to know what’s going on with your case, he or she doesn’t care if your client’s car broke down, or if they have an interview, or if they are going back to school, or what happened when they were in 3rd grade, etc. The prosecutor wants to know if it’s going to be a plea or a trial or if you have outstanding discovery or if you are trying to work it out. If they want more information, they will ask for it. If you let the prosecutor know that you’d like to talk to him or her in detail about your client, he or she will make time for you.
Do not lie
This one is pretty straight forward. If you haven’t been in contact with your client and they are about to capias him or her, do not tell the prosecutor that they are on their way. If they are going to drop a dirty urine screen, don’t tell the prosecutor that they will be clean. Just don’t lie.
Do not try to undermine the prosecutor or their office
Do not try to pull one over on the prosecutor’s office. Represent your client to the best of your ability, but do not resort to being sneaky. I do not have a good example for this, because it rarely happens, but when it does… The prosecutor remembers.
Do not make personal attacks on the prosecutor
This happened to me personally. When I was in an OVI jury trial, the defense attorney told the jury in his opening statement that I worked at a restaurant. He actually told the jury that I support drinking and driving because I serve people alcohol and then send them on their way to their cars. I was furious. I will never forget it. Prosecutors remember when you “burn” them. They hold the power of plea bargains. Do not burn those bridges.
Do not threaten the prosecutor
If you don’t get the deal you want, threatening to go over the prosecutor’s head will likely not get you very far. In my experience, the prosecutor’s supervisor will stand behind the decision of the room prosecutor. If there is a reason you’d like to talk to a supervisor, let the room prosecutor know what is going on with the case, and why you would like to talk to the supervisor. Threatening to go over their head is rude.