Just the other day I was approached by a student who told me that he had just accepted a job offer from a prosecutor’s office. He wanted me to recommend some reading for him to prepare him to hit the ground running when he took up his post upon graduating and passing the bar. I didn’t seem to remember him from the Prosecution Clinic, so I asked if he had taken either it or the Criminal Defense Clinic. He hadn’t. I made some recommendations off the top of my head, and told him if he would email me I would send him a more comprehensive list.
Here, then, is my recommended reading list for recent graduates who have just taken a job with a prosecutor’s (or public defender’s) office. The list will be Florida-centric, but readers in other states ought to be able to modify it to their jurisdiction:
Prosecution Principles: A Clinical Handbook, by yours truly. If you think I’m just trying to sell books, then purchase
The Art of Prosecution, by John Bugliosi, or
The Best Story Wins (And Other Advice for New Prosecutors), by John Bobo.
After reading one of these books, you should read:
The Evidence Code, and
You should read the Evidence Code and the Rules of Criminal Procedure from beginning to end. Be judicious about reading the Criminal Code, as there will be far more laws on the books than you will ever encounter on the average docket.
Additional references which it would be nice to be familiar with are
Your jurisdiction’s Standard Jury Instructions, and
The Sentencing Guidelines or Punishment Code, for your jurisdiction, and last but certainly not least
The Rules Regulating the Bar Association of your jurisdiction, with particular emphasis on the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Finally, the following resources might give some guidance:
The National District Attorneys Association’s National Prosecution Standards, 3d edition,
The America Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Standards for Prosecutors, and finally
The Code for Crown Prosecutors, paragraphs 4.1 through 4.11, which describes The Full Code Test, an excellent methodology for making the most important decision a prosecutor routinely makes—the decision whether to file charges, whom to file charges against, and what charges to file.