We reminisced. We counted down. And then we ushered it in … a new year filled with promise and hope.
This time of year is known for fresh starts, a reset button on life.
Resolutions are made, and we face the unknown with a renewed sense of purpose, with an “I got this” attitude.
Well, I have to admit, as of the writing of this article, I had yet to channel the inner gusto associated with this time of year. Even this article didn’t come as easily as previous writings. Ideas were proposed, but none felt right. A couple false starts, and part of me wanted to tell The Gazette editor it just wasn’t happening this week. The headache didn’t help either.
What to do? What to do? A couple of ibuprofen later, and I looked outside myself for inspiration. I spent time on the internet researching prosecutors and their writings. I found a quote from Merrick Garland, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
He said, “The great joy of being a prosecutor is that you don’t take whatever case walks in the door. You evaluate the case; you make your best judgment. You only go forward if you believe that the defendant is guilty.”
That quote made me think. While I agree with Judge Garland, what’s most important to me (and to many other county prosecutors slogging through hundreds of cases) is the victim.
For every case file, there is at least one life affected by the actions of the defendant. There are no victimless crimes, and it is the human contact that drives me to continue. Who was hurt or taken advantage of? Who is still emotionally vulnerable?
In most cases, there is an identifiable victim and families of victims who are also suffering. In some cases, such as drug possession, the crime may appear to only affect the defendant until you realize that most defendants have families, parents, spouses, children, and friends who also suffer.
Like me, most prosecutors I know became prosecutors because they want to make a difference. They chose the vocation to help those impacted by criminal acts and because they want to do the right thing.
Prosecutors commonly see the absolute worst aspects of human behavior and the havoc wreaked on society as a result. We see gruesome photographs, receive briefings that would frighten most people, talk to doctors, coroners, families of murder victims, victims of violent crimes, and child victims.
Some days it seems too much to bear, but that brings me to another quote by Judge Garland, “I think there is no greater job anybody can have than having been a prosecutor.” With this quote, I 100 percent agree. I can’t see myself doing anything other than what I am driven to do.
Recently Judge Krueger was gracious enough to swear me in for my second full term as prosecutor. I am so fortunate. I love being the elected Prosecutor and I loved being an assistant prosecutor.
When I hit a wall, all I have to do is think about why I started – to help those that need it, and to protect our community. To that end, and in the completion of this writing, I have found my reset button. I feel refreshed, fortunate, and honored to live and serve in Delaware County. Thank you all for placing your confidence in me again, and allowing me to serve as your Delaware County Prosecutor for another four years.
Let’s make it a safe and wonderful 2017 together. Happy New Year!
Carol O’Brien is Delaware County Prosecutor.