I just love a good read as much as the next person and for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been treated to quite a few from an anonymous prosecutor in Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office.
He writes under the pen name Spooky Brown, Esq.–which I can only assume is a play on The Spook Who Sat By The Door.
I don’t know. What do you think?
The opinions here do not reflect the official views of the L.A. District Attorney’s Office, my current employer. To avoid fierce harassment and oppressive retaliation, I’ve decided to conceal my identity, for now.
Each week on Medium, and sometimes daily, Spooky Brown drops raw insight into how the largest prosecutors office in the country operates through the eyes of a Black prosecutor with a conscience.
We were first treated to a four-part series entitled “Why I Don’t Trust Prosecutors: The Testimony of Spooky Brown” in which the writer introduced us to the world of a line prosecutor.
“As a line prosecutor, I’m required to follow the decisions that my supervisors make about people who are charged with crimes. Most of the time, my supervisors have been white, and the people charged have been Black and Brown. While some of those decisions have been right, too many of them have been wrong — dead wrong.”
Right then and there is where we’re introduced to “Byron,” a 21-year-old Black man, who was, “pulled over by two Hispanic police officers after failing to signal when making a right turn.”
The facts according to Spooky Brown the prosecutor are as follows…
- He became upset after the officers ordered him out of his vehicle.
- When he refused, the police forcefully removed him from his car.
- A physical fight with one of the officers ensued.
- After he was arrested, the officers discovered that he was on felony probation, and thus subject to police searches at any time and place.
- As a result, the officers took him to his home where he lived with his mother.
- While searching the home, the officers found a gun underneath a couch where he regularly slept.
- As a felon, he wasn’t legally allowed to own guns.
- He was charged with felony resisting arrest and illegal possession of a firearm.
Because of his prior strike conviction, Byron faced a maximum of seven years in state prison. He rejected the previous offer of six years. Since Byron fought a policeman, the offer was way higher than the norm. He would’ve received no further time if he hadn’t.
If you fuck with the cops, the District Attorney will fuck with you. That was the unwritten rule.
See what I mean by good read? And Byron is just the beginning. The more you read, the deeper you go into learning the real inner workings of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
And to be fair–most of what Spooky Brown writes about didn’t start under Jackie Lacey. Steve Cooley, Gil Garcetti, and those before them played their respective roles in making the district attorney’s office what it is today and since I believe in giving credit where credit is due…a round of applause please.
That said, an elected district attorney sets the policies and practices for line prosecutors and their supervisors. It’s the elected district attorney who sets the tone on what criminal cases they want to be prosecuted and how they should be resolved including charging decisions to sentencing recommendations. So while a lot of what Spooky Brown writes about may not have started under Jackie Lacey, she had the power and the responsibility to change the culture of the district attorney’s office from one that only cares about their conviction rate to one that understands that justice isn’t always a conviction or a forced plea agreement but sometimes it’s diverting the accused to a program or drug treatment, dismissing the case altogether–or just having never filed it in the first place. How about that for a novel idea?
At any rate, Spooky Brown the prosecutor is on my radar and I am enjoying everything he’s sharing. More of his colleagues need to take a page from his book and do the same.
Follow Spooky Brown on Twitter here and read his stories of life as a Black prosecutor in Los Angeles County here.
Spooky Brown the prosecutor, spill all of that tea. We’re here for it.