Radley Balko has finished up his job at the Huffington Post by posting the full-lenth interview he conducted with long-time Louisiana defense attorney, Sam Dalton.
Balko interviewed Dalton for his lengthy expose of prosecutorial misconduct, “The Untouchables: America’s Misbehaving Prosecutors, And The System That Protects Them” in July.
Here’s an excerpt, posted by Balko yesterday:
What would you say to a well-intentioned person interested in becoming a judge or a prosecutor?
Retain your humility, and understand the corrupting effects of power. Power is insidious. It will creep up on even the most decent people. Always be aware of that, and be vigilant against it.
How specifically does a person do that? I’ve talked to former prosecutors and police officers who admit that there were times they were blinded by power or tunnel-vision, but didn’t realize it at the time.
I have what I call a theory of inverse power. It may sound silly, but I think we need daily reminders to keep us grounded. I think that instead of collecting the little day-to-day accoutrements of power as you ascend in office, you should lose them. The most powerful man in the building should have the worst parking space. The district attorney should have the longest walk to the office. Twice a day, at least, he’d be reminded of his humanity.
There’s also the distribution of chairs — powerful people have the soft, cushy chairs. The chairs get harder and less comfortable as you go down the ladder. Whenever a new regime takes office, there’s always a rearranging of the chairs. If you want to be a conscientious leader, give yourself the hardest chair.
These are little things, I know. But don’t underestimate them. Powerful people insulate themselves from humility — not just in terms of official accountability, but in their immediate surroundings. But they’re the ones most in need of it. Reminding yourself that you’re human and capable of mistakes is important in any line of work. But it’s especially important when you hold lives in your hands.
Read Balko’s entire post here.
He says of his own plans:
Starting January 8, I’ll begin a daily blog at the Washington Post that will focus on civil liberties and the criminal justice system. My interview with Dalton seems like an ideal way to wind down both my time here at HuffPost, as well as a good way to end a year marked by milestone anniversaries of Supreme Court rulings protecting the rights of the accused.