Marketing the Hired-Gun Prosecutor

 Posted on July 25, 2008 in Uncategorized

I wrote back in May about Kelly Siegler's future as a Hired-Gun Prosecutor (motto: "I get paid to make people afraid!"). "How to get the business?" I asked, "Word of mouth and the internet, of course."

Then in June she posted to the Women in Crime Ink blog with the tagline "Prosecutor for Hire." The businesspeople among us recognized this as a first step toward creating a brand.

Now it's July, and Kelly has another post up at Women in Crime Ink. This one, "Win at All Costs? Not Really" is a none-too subtle slam of Texas prosecutors:

The real problem is that far too many prosecutors are worried about taking on a difficult case, a case that is not a slam-dunk or a whale ("as easy as harpooning a whale in a barrel," as we say in Harris County, Texas). Too many prosecutors demand that the cases presented to them for the filing of charges come to them with all the questions answered and wrapped in a pretty, little bow. What prosecutors seem to forget is that the question they need to be asking is whether a jury of twelve, ordinary, normal, non-lawyer citizens would convict on the evidence presented to them or evidence easily developed by the prosecutor after the filing of charges.

(If you read Kelly's article, by the way, know that her lede is astraw man. The public's complaint about prosecutors is not that theyfight to convict people whom they know to be innocent, nor that theyfight aggressively and fairly to convict people whom they believe to be guilty.The complaint is that the Rosenthal-Siegler "win at all costs" cultureleads some prosecutors - even [especially?] those whom Kelly describes as "chicken", to break the rules to win. Most prosecutors don't cheat, just as most prosecutors aren't chicken, but the office that tolerates one prosecutor breaking the rules deserves the loss of public trust that will inevitably follow.)

There's more - much more - of this scathing critique of the prosecutors whom Kelly lauded when it suited her political interests. So what's going on here?

It looks to me like marketing. The legal market is tough, especially when you're trying to create a niche for yourself that the justice system had so far been able to do without. Kelly recognizes that her erstwhile colleagues are now her competition, because as long as the people of Texas (her potential customers) have faith in their elected DAs and their hired minions to do a good job, there'll never be much of a market for the hired gun.

Kelly is, of course, using fear - the fear that the prosecutor prosecuting your loved one's murderer won't do a good job - to market herself. Fear notwithstanding, there's fair marketing and unfair marketing. It's fair to the customers and the competition to fairly depict the competition's failings (to warn the customers). It's unfair to paint the competition with such a broad brush that the customers get the wrong impression of the competition (to make the customers afraid).

Is Kelly's marketing fair? AHCL, to whom goes the hat tip, is filled with fawning admiration still for every pronouncement that Kelly "authors". An anonymous commenter on his blog (9:17 a.m.), however is "inflamed" by Kelly's "tear[ing] down others in a desperate attempt to advance her relevance."

What do you think?

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