I was enormously flattered when Mike and Kim recently invited me to contribute to this terrific blog. During my two-year tenure as the first executive director of the recently created New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing, I've been sustained to a great degree by a virtual community of people, including Mike, Kim and Professor Doug Berman, among many others, whose well-considered insights, advise and enthusiasm have been invaluable.
Several nefarious prosecutors have justifiably been the topic de jour in this blog and elswhere, so I suppose now is as good a time as any to disclose that my professional career prior to joining the sentencing commission was that of a career prosecutor, first with the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and then for a somewhat surreal two-year stint with the now-defunct New Jersey Office of Counter-Terrorism. During my nine-year tenure with Division, I was very fortunate to have been detailed to several unique projects spearheaded by the Attorney General that emphasized collaboration and partnerships with other major stakeholders in the criminal justice system, including the defense bar, aimed at reducing violent crime in some of New Jersey's toughest cities with innovative approaches that relied just as much on community intervention and outreach as with prosecutorial zeal. It was pretty heady stuff for a young state prosecutor and set me on a course that perhaps inevitably led to the sentencing commission.
Despite my legal background, please don't anticipate many posts about court decisions - after all, how could one dare compete with the inimitable and indefatigable Professor Berman? Nor would it be ethically appropriate or in good form to discuss the initiatives of the New Jersey Sentencing Commission. In this vein, the views expressed in my posts are mine alone and do not reflect those of the New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing or the New Jersey Attorney General's Office (I still serve as a deputy attorney general). Now that these technicalities are out of the way, it's time to join the party.