This summer I have been interning at the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s office is responsible for choosing what cases to try, forming a theory around the cases that they choose to try, and then trying those cases in front of a judge.
The prosecutor’s office is made up of many more people than just the prosecutor. The prosecutor is the head of the office. She serves as the face of the State for publicity reasons as well as to meet with victims who might have to hear hard news about their case. She rarely tries cases and when she does they are the major cases. Her primary role is to oversee the deputy prosecutors (DPs). The DPs are the attorneys actually responsible for trying cases. There are between one and two DPs per court in Elkhart County. Generally the DPs handle all of the cases that take place in their court and, in Elkhart County, the cases are generally organized in the courts based on the type of offense. For example all the cases in Superior Court 3 are either drugs related felonies or Child Victim cases. Limiting the types of cases that appear in each court allows for those prosecutors to learn the ins and outs of those kinds of cases so that they can try them more efficiently.
There are many other people who work in the office who are not prosecutors. The legal aids assist the prosecutors in preparing cases, filing, and communicating with the court. There are also other departments in the office such as the Pretrial Diversion Program, Victim’s Assistance, and Child Services which help victims, defendants, and their families to navigate the legal system. Each individual in the office has a specific role to play that is interconnected with the others. It is essential that all parts of the office work together, but also that they focus on fulfilling their specific role. There are so many cases coming into the office that there is not time for anyone to try to overstep and do someone else’s job. They have to focus on the role that is put in front of them in order to move efficiently and push cases through. My role in the office has allowed me to take a step back from a specific role and see the process as a whole. I have been given tasks from multiple different departments which has allowed me to see how important it is for each of the components in the system to work as they are supposed to so that the cases can move efficiently.