I am a trial lawyer. I defend people accused of crimes. On the other side of the courtroom, is an assistant prosecutor who also tries cases. While we are both trial lawyers, our roles and duties are much different. My job is to defend and represent my client zealously, passionately and aggressively. My single goal is free my client. While the prosecutor many passionately argue her case, she has greater obligations — it is her job to be fair, promote fairness and to dismiss a case where she feels that she shouldn’t win even if she believes that she will. They are different roles.
As I read the article in the Oakland Press about a prosecutor advising a witness of his right to plead the 5th, I couldn’t help but get angry. The witness was called by the defense to testify in a medical marijuana case. The witness is the former mayor of Ferndale who walked through a dispensary in Ferndale in 2010. The visit and walk through was done with reporters around and photographs were taken during the visit. There is no dispute that it took place.
Yet, the prosecutor advised the witness, now a county commissioner, that he could be incriminating himself if he testified. Has she done the same thing in other cases where she’s called witnesses who could or may incriminate themselves? No, not really. When I’ve stood up in court and pointed out that the witness could be incriminating himself, did she agree? No, to the contrary, she usually stomps her feet and complains that the witness is not and she’s not targeting the witness or that the defense is trying to “intimidate” the witness or some other protest similar in sound and nature.
Yet, she just did the same thing. And when the defense claimed that she was intimidating a witness, her reaction was that she was “just doing her job” and that she “is supposed to look out for witnesses who may incriminate themselves”.
You be the judge . . .