The Arizona ethical rules for attorneys have special provisions that apply only to prosecutors. Sheila Polk, the Yavapai County Attorney, and Bill Montgomery, the Maricopa County Attorney, urge young prosecutors to live up to these special provisions in an opinion piece that they wrote for the April 2018 issue of Arizona Attorney magazine entitled “The My Last Word: Mentoring Tips From Prosecutors” which is found online at http://www.azattorneymag-digital.com/azattorneymag/201804/MobilePagedArticle.action?articleId=1369716&app=false#articleId1369716
They wrote about what it means to be a Minister of Justice:
“With the title of Minister of Justice comes the grave responsibility of always seeking the truth, honoring the rights of the accused, and speaking up in the face of injustice. Prosecutors wield great power— the ability to strip an individual of liberty, and even of life itself. Our job is not about conviction rates but about ensuring, always, that justice is done. Never, ever, sacrifice your ethics for a conviction.
Prosecutors—all attorneys, in fact—must remember always that your reputation is everything and your handshake is your word. Passions run high in the courtroom; don’t allow things to become personal or take things personally. Everyone has a job to do; leave differences behind and forge a reputation built on the trustworthiness of your handshake. Avoid the temptation to punish a defendant or adversary for their attorney’s conduct. And stay out of the mud no matter how vitriolic things become.”
One of their practical tips is to avoid confirmation bias:
- Avoid confirmation bias—the tendency to search for, interpret, and recall information in a way that confirms preexisting beliefs. The first step in achieving justice is to have an open mind, to listen, and to honestly and fairly evaluate cases, whether for charging or settlement.
Another practical tip is civility to others:
“Life is about relationships—your family, your colleagues at work, police officers, victims of crime, defense attorneys and their clients, judges, and the incredibly competent administrative professionals working by our sides. Treat everyone with respect and civility. Be willing to reach out a hand, offer a smile, say thank you, admit your mistakes, hold open a door, and listen instead of cutting someone off. We can all be successful while practicing civility. Practice civility always.”
Of course, prosecutors are human beings just like judges, victims, defendants, and defense attorneys. They will sometimes fail to live up to the tips above. A prosecutor may have a meltdown in court because a defendant pushed his buttons. Another may believe that a defendant is guilty of a sex crime against a child so that justifies callous behavior. Yet another may fall victim to confirmation bias against a defendant resulting in a plea offer that’s unduly punitive based on the evidence.
It’s never a good idea to face the prosecutor alone. Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over thirty years experience dealing with prosecutors and is a former prosecutor. Gary knows the law and will help you protect your rights. Get a free initial consultation by calling Gary Rohwling today.
Law Offices of Gary L Rohlwing
7112 N 55th Ave
Glendale, AZ 85301