There's a scene in the movie Philadelphia that speaks to me. Tom Hanks' character is on the witness stand and is asked what he likes about being a lawyer. He says:
Well... many things. But I think the thing I love the most,Ever since I arrived in Astoria as the appointed DA in March of 1994, there were many who said I'd soon leap to some higher office. Sixteen years later, I continue to agree with my friends and colleagues on the Board of Directors of the National District Attorneys Association who say that being the DA is one of the best jobs in America. It's not the fabulous pay (hah!) or the massive power (checked by intelligence, empathy, the legislative and judicial branches of government, and the voters). It's that I get paid to do the right thing, to be a part of justice being done every day.
is that every once in a while, not that often, but occasionally...
you get to be part of justice being done.
It's really quite a thrill when that happens.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, that does not mean putting every wrongdoer in jail or prison. It means prosecuting those who need to be prosecuted, and having the wisdom to know the difference. This is especially important in a little town, a lightly-populated county, where there is little distance between me, the victims and their families, the defendants and their families, and even the jurors. We run into each other at the coffee shop where I like to eat lunch, at the supermarket, the Post Office, the Rotary luncheons.
One of the great people I've gotten to know through the NDAA Board is Charles (Joe) Hynes, the DA of Brooklyn (technically Kings County, New York). I was surprised and flattered when Joe called few months ago and asked if I would serve on the American Bar Association's 30-member Criminal Justice Section leadership council. I have publicly disagreed, often on the pages of their own magazine, with some of the positions the ABA has taken, and am viewed at best as a rowdy iconoclast by a good many of their members.
I'm a WYSIWYG kind of guy. What you see is what you get, and you can find me in the Archives section of this site. Looking through those earlier essays I find they continue to reflect my beliefs and interests, are fairly well-written, and sometimes come with photos of myself that make me cringe.
Occasionally you can find me on stage, and not while giving a speech at a state prosecutors association meeting somewhere around the country. This month marks my 16th consecutive season in the role of the Sheriff in the Astor Street Opry production of Shanghaied in Astoria. I had just arrived in Astoria when the Astoria Police Chief suggested I make a cameo appearance in the play. It is a VERY small role, just two lines, and I'm honored and pleased to be in rotation with some of the real actors and do eight or ten shows a year. It's one of the many reasons that I find Astoria a very special place, all the more so after traveling around the United States. Living in a little town is about a lot of little things that combined make big things -- like belonging to Rotary (and trying to live by their Four-Way Test) and working towards a four-gallon pin for the Red Cross.
Thankya, Constant Reader.*
(*borrowed from Stephen King)