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Northampton, MA
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The Ax Falls In Hampden County

Posted on : January 4, 2015, By:  Tom Kokonowski, Esq.

I have successfully removed myself from all politics as they regard district attorney races in Western Massachusetts. It is just too sticky, in my opinion, as a defense attorney.

My philosophy is that it really should not concern me, as I will defend my clients with the same zeal, no matter who the district attorney is.

However, it has been difficult to ignore what happened in Hampden County, this last election. A very young man (33, I believe?) was elected as the county’s top law enforcer. Honestly, to me, his age does not matter. I have met the guy a couple of times and had some small cases with him in the Springfield District Court. Very nice guy with smarts and a great sense of humor  (I might be a bit jealous because along with his youth, he has good looks too). His age will not matter, in my opinion, as long as he surrounds himself with experienced and fair people.

The best example of that type of perfect mix within a D.A.’s office can be seen in the Hampshire/Franklin D.A.’s office. D.A. Sullivan has chosen to be an administrative D.A., meaning, he does not try cases in court, but runs the show and sets policy from the office, letting his assistant D.A.’s do the work in court. His office is excellent, in my opinion, because of the assistants he has surrounded himself with, starting with his first assistant.  Sullivan’s first assistant is fair, thoughtful, smart and can kick the shit out of anyone in court, if need be. The most important of those attributes are the fair and thoughtful parts.

I learned yesterday that 19 A.D.A.’s may have  been let go from Hampden County by the new D.A.  So, it appears as if there will be a lot of new A.D.A.’s to deal with across the county for we defense attorneys. Hopefully, it will be a refreshing experience.

More importantly, I hope it will be the experience that it is supposed to be. In our system of criminal justice, the prosecutor is a VERY powerful person. Accordingly, it is NOT a prosecutor’s job to simply ‘win” by getting convictions. It is a prosecutor’s job to use their immense power to make sure that justice is done.

Sometimes justice does mean a state prison sentence. Other times,  justice means either not bringing a charge or dismissing a charge that should not have been brought. Most times, justice is somewhere between those two extremes. It takes a prosecutor with experience to be able to make those decisions, appropriately. Here’s to hoping for experienced new prosecutors.

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