“The taxpayers don’t pay us for intellectual curiosity. They pay us to get convictions.” While these words may have been thought by many prosecutors in the past, none have been bold enough to say them until now. This is just one of the controversial comments a Lake County prosecutor is under fire for—comments that have led to him announcing his retirement in January.
State’s Attorney Michael Waller says the comments made by this particular Lake County prosecutor do not reflect his views on the attorney’s office, “nor do they reflect the manner in which my staff has conducted themselves over the last 21 years.” In the past, Waller had called this prosecutor “a prosecutor’s prosecutor.” Now, his tune has changed.
The local sheriff had demanded the prosecutor be dismissed after some comments that were made to the New York Times. When asked about a case involving a murdered 11 year old girl who was found with DNA not matching the defendant within her, he said the obvious explanation was that the child was sexually active.
As if that wasn’t enough, he is accused of trying to frame the now-freed Jerry Hobbs, who was convicted of killing his 8 year old daughter and her friend. The prosecutor in question said in regards to semen found on the girl (which didn’t match Hobbs), that she may have gotten it inside her while playing near the crime scene, where he said people would go to have sex. This despite the fact that the young victim was fully clothed.
A prosecutor represents the state; they represent the law in a criminal case. And they are there to find justice, no matter how it is served. Justice doesn’t always mean a conviction—it could mean knowing when to let a defendant go in order to pursue stronger suspects. This particular prosecutor doesn’t seem to agree, however.
He is also named in a defamation lawsuit brought by Jerry Hobbs and still maintains that he is convinced of Hobbs’ guilt, despite the fact that the DNA found on Hobbs’ daughter matches a convicted rapist and suspected murderer.
The state can’t allow such a controversial figure represent its interests and act as the long arm of the law. When it comes to enforcing criminal statutes, a fair, knowledgeable, and tactful professional is necessary.
When you are the one facing charges, it can be difficult to see the prosecution as any of these things. And while the ideal is a fair and just state attorney, that isn’t always the reality. Fortunately, your attorney is there to help ensure you are treated fairly.