There has been plenty of talk about whether "experience" is a necessary part of being prosecutor. Specifically, does one need to have ever tried criminal cases before a jury in order to be qualified to be prosecutor in Marion County?
I think the debate last night between current Marion County Prosecutor Republican Carl Brizzi and the woman trying to unseat him, Democrat Melina Kennedy, gives a hint at some answers.
As is usual in their sparring matches, Brizzi got in a few good jabs at Kennedy and vice versa. These two are quite good at finding every little mistake the other has made. But let's be clear, it has been on Brizzi's watch that the recent crime wave has taken hold and I can't help but be compelled by the Kennedy campaign's slogan, "Results matter."
The interesting tidbit in last night's debate was a question from moderator Dennis Ryerson, editor of the Indianapolis Star. Ryerson questioned Kennedy about experience and whether it should be an issue in this campaign. From the Star:
Ryerson asked Kennedy why her experience shouldn't be an issue.
"It's a leadership position," she said, adding that Brizzi, a former deputy prosecutor, has handled only two cases himself while prosecutor. "My experience as deputy mayor (and) my experience as a lawyer for over 10 years makes me the right person to lead that job."
An honest answer...And a good one too. I don't think a prosecutor needs to have tried a case...That means that most promotions would come from the small pool of deputy prosecutors and new leadership would be hard to find. Prosecutor is indeed a "leadership position" as there is a team of deputy prosecutors that try most cases.
Continuing the thread, Ryerson then turns to Brizzi with his own question about experience. Recently, Brizzi was endorsed by former Indianapolis Mayor and former Marion County Prosecutor Stephen Goldsmith. At the time of Goldsmith's election as prosecutor, he too had never put a criminal behind bars. Ryserson asked Brizzi if Goldsmith, a major endorsement for Brizzi, was unqualified for the job of prosecutor when he was elected. Brizzi's reply (again from the Star):
Brizzi sidestepped the question, responding: "When Steve Goldsmith was elected, I was 8 years old. I really don't know what the condition of the city was then, or the prosecutor's office. But I do know now that we are dealing with some major issues in our city."
Way to go, Carl. You may not be the best prosecutor this city has seen, but you're certainly a pro at the pirouette. Is that a qualification for prosecutor as well?
Results matter. We've seen the results of Brizzi's prosecutorial prowess. The result is an increase in violent crime and a city that at times has felt under siege. If this is what experience gets you, give me the rookie.
What do you think?