OPINION

Fisher shares prosecutor's perspective

Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Dear Editor,

Please allow me to share with your readers an item of interest that may help shape their thinking about our nation's current difficulties:

The Prosecutor's Perspective – Principles and Purpose over Politics

As 2021 dawns, our nation is in crisis. Emerging within this crisis with increasing frequency and intensity are violent and other acts that constitute criminal conduct at either the state or federal level. Chief among those currently are the actions of some at our national and various state capitols. As the result of these acts, many of our citizens are left with feelings of angst, confusion, pain, betrayal and hopelessness. These feelings are common to all victims of crime. As with any criminal event, prosecutors will be called upon to perform critical tasks and to help the victims negotiate this labyrinth during the current crisis.

As with most cases, law enforcement will quell the violence, make the scenes safe and begin the information/evidence gathering process. This is what they do.

However, it is prosecutors who will be tasked with sorting through the mountains of information (videos, posts, statements, photographs, travel records, phone records, etc., some accurate – some not), to determine what may be admissible evidence in a potential criminal prosecution. It is prosecutors who must evaluate the admissible evidence with an eye towards identifying potential ethically prosecutable criminal conduct. It is prosecutors that must weigh the evidence to determine if the admissible evidence is sufficient to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt. It is prosecutors who will be tasked with providing to the accused all of the evidence that might cast doubt on their guilt. It is prosecutors who much present all of this to a jury of 12 and seek unanimous agreement that the evidence warrants a conviction for the charged crimes. It is prosecutors who must do this while discerning the valid cries for justice above the louder rhetorical noise. It is prosecutors who will be prohibited from publicly responding to either while the process moves forward. It is the prosecutors who must disregard the politics in favor of principles and purpose. It is the prosecutors who know that they will be the subject of intense criticism irrespective of the path or the destination.

Oklahoma District Attorneys are prepared to meet this challenge wherever it may surface. Moreover, we stand prepared to support those other prosecutors and their staffs whenever needed and wherever called. We are “servants of the law” committed to the fair administration of justice – irrespective of the race, creed, religion, politics or proximity of those charged with or those victimized by crime. Oklahoma Prosecutors are a diverse group. Diverse in geography, demography, and ideology. This makes us stronger. Accordingly, we must be intentional about focusing on our common mission and refuse to be distracted by the noise of dissension. It is important to remember and repeat, that which binds us is much stronger than that which divides us.

Sincerely,

Mike Fisher

District Attorney for Osage and Pawnee counties

Adopted by permission from Martin “Bo” Duhe, president, and Loren M. Lampert, Executive Director, Louisiana District Attorneys Association