Power – the slippery slope

The Montrose County, Colorado, District Attorney Myrl Serra has been disbarred following his convictions for criminal extortion, unlawful sexual contact, violating a protective order, harassment, and violating the conditions of his bail. There were multiple allegations against Serra of fairly egregious sexual misconduct against women including office staff, including groping the women, and attempting to force women to touch his penis/ masturbate him in his office.
One thing that stood out to me in the articles is that, long before an investigation was begun against Serra, at least one woman sought a restraining order against him which was denied by the magistrate, despite allegations of Serra physically assaulting her and her fiancee, and then a second request for a restraining order against Serra was denied despite her claim that Serra was sending sexually harassing messages to her phone.
Whether it is in court or out, there is a tendency to believe prosecutors – we want to believe that they are good human beings, who wear the white hat and who try at all times to do the right thing and make the right decisions. I want to believe that. But it is an inescapable fact that, for some people, power leads to corruption. Some like the feeling of power too much, and begin to abuse it for their own gratification – whether the gratification comes from the need to control, the need to win at all costs, or some other dark emotional need the person has. In some cases, the abuse of power leads to crime. In many others, it leads to abuse of the system, abuse of the litigants, abuse of the people who live and work in the system.
It can lead to Brady violations and the abuse of prosecutorial discretion – when courts do not punish or provide any sanction for misconduct, and when disciplinary bodies do not provide any sanctions for prosecutorial misconduct, some prosecutors will abuse their freedom.
For some, it may lead to a feeling of un-touchability, like the person is above the law, and for some this may lead to clear cut criminal conduct like that of Mr. Serra. I think that Serra could never have gotten to that point unless judges, attorneys, employees, and all around him were looking the other way and tacitly excusing his conduct for some time before it came to light. It’s a slippery slope that we create for those in power – how many others are struggling to keep their footing on that same or similar slopes?
H/T the Legal Profession

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