THE QUALITIES OF A GOOD PROSECUTOR
Robert H. Jackson, Associate Supreme Court Justice from 1941 - 1954, and Chief United States Prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, was an insightful, articulate, and honorable man.
His essay "The Federal Prosecutor" is a timeless piece of judicial, political, and philosophical concepts. He ends it with the following paragraph: "The qualities of a good prosecutor are as elusive and as impossible to define as those which mark a gentleman. And those who need to be told would not understand it anyway. A sensitiveness to fair play and sportsmanship is perhaps the best protection against the abuse of power, and the citizen's safety lies in the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes, and who approaches his task with humility."
I constantly return to Justice Jackson's essay as a guide and reminder. Prosecuting a case is a heavy burden. Society has an acute interest in the fair administration of Justice. Crime victims look to our justice system for protection, and, yes, appropriate punishment for those who have victimized them. And we must remember that the accused is in danger of losing his or her freedom--in America, freedom is a sacred word and freedom must never be taken away without solemn consideration.
I ask everyone in the office to remember the power that has been entrusted to us; and I ask them to remember Justice Jackson's words: "...the citizen's safety lies in the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes, and who approaches his task with humility."
Robert Tendy, Putnam County District Attorney