When I left Mizzou, I returned to a community I know and love to practice law to keep the community safe as a prosecutor. I grew up on a farm forty minutes north of Columbia in western Audrain County. Today, I am the elected Prosecuting Attorney, and have served as Prosecutor since July 2009.
Although I did not set out to be a prosecutor when I was in law school, I am proud of my choice. Prosecution is a demanding job which requires a lot from attorneys, personally and professionally. The late nights and early mornings, the middle of the night phone calls, and the missed dinners, date nights, and childhood moments are part of the toll.
My mentor once described prosecution as winning the pie-eating contest at the County Fair, and the first prize was more pie – and he was right. There are many nights my office lights stay on well past the rest in the Courthouse as the constant stream of crimes, from shoplifting to sexual assault, never slows. It is tremendously satisfying to know that I make a difference in peoples’ lives each day.
The power of the State is a heavy tool to carry, but I don’t do it alone. Local law enforcement looks to me for leadership and guidance for translating their experiences in the field into action under the law. I lead an office of 11 whose job is to protect the powerless and the voiceless, ensure the community remains safe for all, and hold those accountable who break our laws. The prosecution community is close-knit and cares deeply about justice and collaborating for the greater good. Many of my Mizzou classmates and friends work in prosecution, and those connections have made my practice more collegial and enjoyable.
Rural Missouri needs young, enthusiastic and energetic lawyer leaders. We need lawyers who want to make a difference in small ways each day and build a personal and professional life from modest, earned foundations based in hard work. I am always interested in meeting and speaking with law students with an interest in criminal law and working in rural Missouri. My office is less than 45 minutes from Columbia, so we are always welcoming to law students for clerk experience and conversation.