Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien was named 2014 Prosecutor Model of Justice by the The Ohio Justice League this week.
The Justice League is a non-profit legal clinic serving victims in all 88 Ohio counties. It has worked with more than 800 victims of violent crime. The clinic provides free services to victims who need it, and often works with victims of sexual crimes. According to The Justice League, it works to meet goals of restoring faith and balance in the criminal justice system by staffing attorneys who uphold victims rights and by doing outreach to Ohio communities to raise awareness about victim rights.
“The Justice League is a separate entity that helps victims of crime find their way through the criminal justice system,” O’Brien said. “It is an honor to be considered a Model of Justice. My goal every day is to protect and serve the community in which I live.”
O’Brien was nominated for the award by Frank Reed, an attorney with the law firm of Frost, Brown and Todd.
“It would be easy to say that justice is putting every defendant in prison, but in reality justice is more complicated than that,” O’Brien said. “It involves taking into consideration the needs of the victim, the constraints of the legal system, and the individual facts of every case. Ultimately, you do the best you can from a legal perspective and you hope your presence is a support for victims and their families.”
The Justice League said O’Brien is dedicated to victim rights, as shown through her dedication to prosecute Frank Hertel, a defendant convicted of raping his daughter 20 years ago; O’Brien was the third prosecutor to handle the case, but was dedicated to finishing it. The Justice League also noted O’Brien’s work with the Victim Services Unit within the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office and her work with education.
“I try to be the best person I can every single day,” O’Brien said. “I help others whenever I can, and I try to be involved in as many community events as possible so that when people need to contact my office, they can put a face to the name and not be intimidated by the process.”
O’Brien said she knew she wanted to be an attorney since she was in elementary school, but it wasn’t always on the side of prosecution.
“I wanted to be Perry Mason,” she said. “Perry Mason was a (fictional) defense attorney who was always able to solve the case through his brilliant legal questioning and get his client acquitted. Obviously, I am much more interested in convicting defendants these days.”
She said her 30-year career has had many memorable moments – each victim and each case making its own impression on her. She said she plans to continue to make an impact on Delaware County as prosecutor and as a Model of Justice.
“This award is a true honor, but I believe that the daily effort to act responsibly and compassionately is what will make a difference,” she said. “If someone honors me by viewing me as a role model, well, I couldn’t ask for more.”