“Tilting the Scales of Justice” with David LaBahn

                        tilting the scales of justice, David LaBahn, Shattered Lives, Donna R. Gore, LadyJustice   

“He reminds me of the man who murdered both his parents, and then when sentence was about to be pronounced, pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan.”  ……..Abraham Lincoln

“Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”

Holocaust Museum, Washington, DC

If we were to distill the essence of a recent conversation with prosecutor David LaBahn, CEO of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the above quotes would rightfully apply.  http://www.apainc.org/

The APA is the only national organization of its kind –a “think tank” providing resources, technical assistance  training, collaborating with all criminal justice partners  developing proactive practices to prevent crime and advocating for prosecutors and crime victim rights.  

David is a mover and a shaker… He is a realist with a heart. However, he sees the potential in changing the status quo for the best of reasons…. Reasons- We can do better  and because those who prosecute and those who are victims of violent crime deserve better! 

Taking the criminal justice as it stands, although we cannot “rectify history” or change the underpinnings, advocates CAN reconfigure how things are done in substantive ways; they can be the architects for change.  Changes in thought, perception, effort, quality of work, “walking in the shoes” of a crime victim, keeping in constant touch with the roots of local communities and legislative bodies, educating and keeping on the cutting edge of learning make for an excellent recipe for the future of criminal justice! 

It is only in the telling of what has happened in the past that we can learn to mold the future. By escaping the musty courtrooms and applying skills in town halls and the corner store, prosecutors are paving the way for this metamorphosis like no other method…

How refreshing that the Shattered Lives hosts, had the opportunity to discuss such issues with this “sculptor of justice.”  Read below and tune in to learn more…



  • Upcoming two year anniversary of “Shattered Lives” radio
  • Introduction to our guest
  • The “epiphany” moment- There’s never anything new in the human system of the criminal justice system
  • “I never thought I’d be a career prosecutor” – 10, 10 and 8
  • The system is not balanced and California as the groundbreaker of victim’s rights in the 80s
  • Equity for victims, prosecutors issues and how is the impact on victims- Proactive versus reactive methods
  • Delilah’s comment on proactivity, reactivity and where is the funding going? 
  • Ladyjustice asks about going outside of the system and creating his own entity.  David responds about making a difference one case at a time, at the county and state level. 
  • The “good side of it”- Proposition 21 and Proposition 69 in California:  Re Gang Violence & Juvenile Offenders http://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_21,_Treatment_of_Juvenile_Offenders_%282000%29
  • Bruce Harrington family tragedy- http://journalism.berkeley.edu/projects/election2004/archives/2004/11/dna_fingerprint.html
  • http://www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2004/69_11_2004.htm
  • Discussion on taking DNA profiles/database of felons and the escalation of crime
  • David on criminals “forgetting what their name is”
  • “Fifty-One separate justice systems “ and beyond 
  • Ladyjustice asks a “Prosecution 101” question regarding who prosecutors represent (felony crimes) 
  • The purpose of the civil system
  • A historical perspective on prosecutor’s role and the emergence of a voice for victims 
  • Reaching out to victim’s – “It’s not just a paper case” since the 1980’s – systemic changes
  • Example: Vine System in Connecticut: https://www.vinelink.com/vinelink/siteInfoAction.do?siteId=7000
  • “It’s really not that difficult to help your victim…”
  • There’s no excuse for victims not knowing who their prosecutor is
  • Ladyjustice’s rant on lack of communication between victims and prosecutors
  • Small offices versus large offices… and giving them a vision when you have limited resources
  • The importance of “my prosecutor” and “we” 
  • Delilah on fighting for the victim voices to be heard and introduction of Ladyjustice’s Victim Impact Statement
  • http://imaginepublicity.com/2013/11/05/victim-impact-statement-assistance-with-donna-r-gore/
  • David on short, poorly written impact statement and “something in the file”  
  • Marty Crawford , VA from Riverside, CA creating a “pink file” 
  • Discussion of videotaping victims if they cannot go through the process again or are too old or frail versus paper
  • Phones and other video or electronic  capabilities 
  • “Why isn’t she here?”
  • The consequences of assurances of “never getting out of prison”
  • The APA nuts and bolts explained- and January 20th-  a                5 year anniversary
  • January 31st  Final Friday’s a free one hour webinar – http://www.apainc.org/default.aspx?act=Newsletter.aspx&category=APA+Highlights&newsletterid=2539&menugroup=Home
  • The diversity of concerns in a community- What’s a priority with the community? – Hard crime or bicycles on the sidewalk, disposal of grease in restaurants etc. etc.
  • If police can’t stop the graffiti, how can you stop a homicide?  That is the question! PROACTIVITY and communicating with all victims
  • “Let the system do the payback…don’t you do the payback”
  • Ladyjustice asks about prosecutor traits and myths
  • David discusses coaches, teams and even being a waiter as a good training ground- What? (There is a connection)
  • Prosecution is theater…but also humanistic
  • Vision and focus of the chief prosecutor
  • The “most popular myths”
  • Can’t prosecutors make a mistake? Conviction integrity unit
  • Parting message – Get involved
  • Contact Information:
David LaBahn, Shattered Lives Radio, Donna R. Gore
David LaBahn


Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
1615 L St. NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC  20036
Phone: 202-861-2480  Fax: 202-223-4688
e-mail –





Questions from “the Jury Box

  • What was the pivotal event that brought criminal justice to David’s radar and a path to being a prosecutor?
  • Why are all of the rights still on the side of the defendant?
  • What is community and zone prosecution? 
  • How do we improve the system of justice at the state level?
  • How do we reform a fragmented justice system? 
  • Who do prosecutors really represent if not the crime victim?
  • How do we achieve a better balance and give victims a voice?
  • What is the most common scenario when prosecutors “fall down on the job” regarding communication about their cases? 
  • What do you do when primary family members can’t go through hearings anymore and need to have their views represented?
  • Does the APA only deal with prosecutors? 
  • What are the traits one needs to have to be an effective prosecutor?
  • What is the significance of prosecutorial leadership?
  • What’s the difference between prosecutorial misconduct and prosecutorial error?

The comments expressed on this website or on the broadcasts of Shattered Lives do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the hosts, producers, or other guests.

Additional References: http://www.finestquotes.com/select_quote-category-Justice-page-0.htm

“Tilting the Scales of Justice” with David LaBahn

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