There are 3 kinds of prosecutor out there. Of course, a person could put prosecutors into different boxes than the ones I like, but I like these 3 boxes: Justice, Apathy, and Winner. All three boxes are the extreme case. In my time as a prosecutor, I met other prosecutors, obviously. Some were my direct colleagues, some were in the United States Attorney’s Office, and others I just knew because of in-person or online networking. Like all people, prosecutors are a range of personalities and often do not neatly fit into the boxes. They take a little from box A and a little from box B, so to speak. But, here are the three boxes:
This is the prosecutor that is offended at the idea of not being in a position of advantage. This prosecutor is more interested in “the win” than anything else. Most folks put most prosecutors into this box; even some defense attorneys only see prosecutors with this lens. The prosecutor wins. That is what s/he does. This prosecutor does not look at the various circumstances surrounding the reason the accused is sitting before the prosecutor.
This prosecutor wins at all cost. This prosecutor strongly resembles our perfect-win-record protagonist (the main character) from the 90’s legal-drama-turned-acid-trip The Devil’s Advocate starring Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves, and Charlize Theron. In my experience, there are absolutely Winner prosecutors out there, but they are rarer than the general population thinks.
This is the prosecutor which is the same government employee just pulling in a paycheck with zero regard for their work as people might associate, perhaps unjustly, with the Secretary of State’s motor vehicle department. This is the overworked, underpaid, and unexcited prosecutor that is either asleep at the wheel or so overworked they are just trying to keep their head above water so they do not drown.
This prosecutor, either the overworked person or the uninterested person, is probably the most amicable to plea bargains. Any plea bargain. Anything to make the workload more manageable. In my experience, there are a lot of the overworked kind but still, there are some uninterested prosecutors.
This is the person who wanted to be a prosecutor in law school. This is the boy scout who was gung-ho when they first became a prosecutor. This person speaks a lot about justice; the kind of person who would make an insufferable police officer; and the rest of the public should be thanking their lucky stars that this person is not also a police officer (or judge or juror).
This person may not have an exact understanding of what “justice” actually is and may confuse “justice” with jail time. The separating factor between Ms. Justice and Mr. Winner is that for Winner things are all about himself and for Ms. Justice things are all about “consequences.” The end result is largely the same, though.
You could catch a prosecutor on various days, moods, or life circumstances and that prosecutor will more fluidly into different boxes based on circumstances. There is always the underlying theme of the person’s workload, however; and even that will often change a little over time. Knowing who you are dealing with could make the difference between a “deal,” a better deal, and whether a trial is the better option. Or, at trial, what moves to play for an advantage.
All in all, it’s good information. And knowledge is power.