Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Doing as I say...

Prosecutors can be a sanctimonious bunch. Not all of them, keep in mind, but more than a few. You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones who feel the need to lecture your client before accepting a plea. The ones who tell you that your client needs to think about his priorities. The one who decides he's going to send a message to your client.

But then there are the prosecutors who will look you in the eye and tell you that your client needs to learn a lesson then go out and feel privileged to do as they wish regardless of the law.

That brings us to Bronx prosecutor Jennifer Troiano. Ms. Troiano has a problem. A severe problem. She's hasn't been forced to try to resolve it because there's always someone willing to cover for her. That is until August of last year when she was involved in a three-car accident in New York. That night Ms. Troiano was arrested and charged with DWI. You see, in the past, Ms. Troiano could always rely on a friendly police officer or fellow prosecutor to make it all go away.

Not that night, though. Officer Elliot Zinstein didn't cooperate. Ms. Troiano even suggested he contact Nestor Ferreiro in the DA's office. Officer Zinstein chose not to.

Officer Zinstein's reward for making the arrest was a transfer from the Bronx to Brooklyn.

Mr. Zinstein didn't take kindly to the transfer and let Internal Affairs investigators know about it. As a result, last week, Officer Zinstein is back patrolling in the Bronx.

Ms. Troiano, on the other hand, is still in need of help. Whether it's for alcoholism or arrogance remains to be seen.

Our clients come to us with their own demons. They find themselves in court because of a bad choice, an ill-informed decision or an addiction. We're not social workers - we can't rid our clients of their demons - but we can attempt to get them some help along the way. That path is often blocked by a prosecutor who lectures us about our client's attitude and actions. A prosecutor who has his or her own demons with which to deal.

Maybe Ms. Troiano will come away from this with a new perspective. Maybe she'll go about her business as if nothing ever happened. Maybe she'll even find herself on the other side of the aisle proclaiming that she always wanted to be a defense attorney.

People make bad choices now and again. Not all of those choices should lead to them being branded as a criminal for life.

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