Brown: Collaboration with law enforcement, victim’s advocates & the community
Ryan Summerlin October 31, 2012
The election season is coming to a close, ironically coinciding with the many hunting seasons and frankly, sometimes I’ve felt like the predator, and other times the prey.The Summit Daily has given me the opportunity to write this piece, but I’m unsure of whether to call it an opening for my hoped for term as district attorney or, a closing argument for my candidacy. Sometimes when lawyers rehearse a case before trial, we conduct a mock trial and consolidate both beginning and ending arguments in something called a “clopening” so, I’ll go with that here. I am looking forward to closing the book on talking, and making talk into action in a new district attorney’s office.The first action of the district attorney’s office new leadership will be to expand the scope of victim’s rights from narrow legal perimeters requiring a narrow group of offenses to, broadly enabling every crime victim to be kept well informed and to have their voice in any plea-bargain or sentencing hearing.Such a victim’s rights expansion does not emanate in a vacuum, but comes from the current district attorney’s office, occasional practice of muzzling victims. For evidence of that, take a look at the case in which a financial services executive who, after leaving the scene of an accident and causing serious injury to a bicyclist, was given a sweat-heart deal, but when the victim wanted to tell the judge how unfair it was, the district attorney tried to silence him. In the next district attorney’s office, wealth and status will not be a plea-bargaining factor and all victims will be guaranteed their day in court.Another office focus will be in making sure that all cases at trial will be well investigated thoroughly and tried by top-notch prosecutors. Too often inexperience has cost Summit County in the courtroom, leading to dockets full of failed cases and victims desire for justice, on empty. With 26 years of criminal trial experience, I have the know-how to lead a prosecutors office presenting strong, winning cases, no longer will 60 percent of tried sexual assault cases be lost. Because Summit County is a community ripe with volunteerism and committed to social justice, I want to harness these resources by taking young or first-time, non-violent offenders, and give them the option of improving themselves, rather than face conviction which may weigh them down for life. I was once a kid who struggled with addiction, but have taken that experience, and helped others in the same predicament.As an example of what the district attorney can do, offenders charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, a relative minor offense but a bell weather of substance abuse, would be able to earn case dismissal, without soiling their criminal record, if they are committed to kicking alcohol or drug dependency. Lets face it, these offenders are often our friends and neighbors and criminalizing them when better options exist, does not strengthen our community fabric. Rest assured, tough punishments for serious crime will occur. Those who threaten public safety need to be removed from the community, putting us a distance from their harmful reach. “Use a gun go to jail” may be a missive you’ve heard before, but now you will see acted upon. Sadly in recent years, public safety concerns have not been consistently identified and addressed. I am optimistic about the road ahead for the district attorney’s office, and turning a corner in collaboration with law enforcement, victim’s advocates and the Summit County community. Bruce Brown is the Democratic candidate running for the 5th Judicial District Attorney, and resides in Evergreen.