Thirty seven years ago I stood in front of the Honorable Daniel Tillman while he swore me in as an Assistant Circuit Attorney. I didn’t do the state capital, mass swear in of new attorneys, just graduated from law school, with family, friends, and photos. The court room was vacant except for one other person, another junior Assistant Circuit Attorney, who I had just met, there to do the introduction with Judge Tillman.
I tried probably 10 felony jury trials in front of Judge Tillman over the next 2 years, including three in one week. But that morning I had no understanding of the significance to me of what had happened. It took 10 minutes. There were no photos or even congratulations. It was my first day on the job.
The oath I swore that morning was to protect the community from criminals. Hold law breakers accountable.
That day, that oath, holding people accountable, became my definition of Justice.
Two days later I got my badge. Number 105. The 105th Assistant Circuit Attorney in the history of the Office.
When I left, they retired the badge – as they did with every badge, and gave me a plaque with the badge fixed above an inscription that said ‘Fine Trial Attorney’. I had tried 56 felony jury trials in two years, most in the office, won most of them.
And I had that badge with me during every one of those 56 felony jury trials.
Today that plaque hangs in my daughter’s office. She is an Assistant Circuit Attorney. She took the same oath I did. The third of my children to take that oath.
I don’t have the badge but frankly, I still carry it. Every time I walk into the courtroom, I put it back on. That is because my badge is the oath I took 37 years ago. Protect the community from those who injure and kill. Hold people and companies accountable.
Nothing has changed for me since that morning in the vacant courtroom.
I still wear it.