As I’ve said many times, the work of the District Attorney’s Office is reactive. We enter the criminal justice system after the crime has occurred and usually after an investigation is ongoing or complete.
However, for us, the shock of the moment when a crime occurs echoes throughout a case like ripples on a still pond after a concrete block is cast into it.
We hear and feel it in the forensic evidence presented by crime scene investigators and medical examiners. We hear and feel it in the voices of living victims, eyewitnesses, and family members. And sometimes, we even hear it in the voice of a deceased victim who whispers to us as we try to piece together what happened to them.
Yet, even then, we prosecutors only encounter the horror of these moments after the immediate sting has passed.
I, and other prosecutor’s in my office, do well to remember that processing these awful moments from the comfort of a desk or the pressure cooker of a courtroom, cannot compare to the horror of that moment when someone first learns about the terrible thing that has happened to their loved one.
My family has personally been affected by violent crime. The moment it happens, and you receive the call that something terrible has happened to someone you care about, time stops and you struggle to process what you are being told.
The initial reaction is disbelief, followed by a bitter concoction of confusion, terror, and anger. All these emotions rage under a shadow of utter powerlessness.
Nothing can prepare you for the awful knowledge that there is nothing you can do about what has happened, but pray for recovery, pray for justice, and pray for peace. Indeed, in these moments, all one can do is pray. The power of prayer is a shield against the most trying moments in life.
Most of you who read this article have received, or will receive, the news about the unexpected death of someone they love. No one escapes this life without these brutal, life-churning moments. To each of you touched by trauma, I am truly sorry.
I live in a world where such calls are part of a day’s work. But I don’t forget the sting of that moment. And I don’t forget the long road of grief, which never runs in a straight line.
That lies in wait for you the moment you hear that certain song, or go to that shared place, or are reminded, however slightly, of that person who is no longer here and whose voice you ache to hear just one more time.
The calling of a prosecutor places you as a regular witness to these hard moments. We can only guide these victims through the process to the best of our ability and fight for the victim who was harmed. I am proud of my team who do this each day.
What I hope to end this column with is hope. Yes, there are dark moments in life, but there is so much good out there. In our jobs, we have the opportunity to truly affect someone’s life in one way or another. I tell my team to fight for what is right and true and just. Fight for the good changes, and people will notice.
Finally, although it may sound cliché, live every moment to its fullest. Never take for granted the fact that we live on borrowed time. Hold close the ones you love. And try to live a life you would not regret if the opportunity to do better left you tomorrow.
The dark moments in life will come. All we can do is face them with as much grace as we can muster.
[Marie Broder has served as the Griffin Judicial Circuit district attorney since 2020. She resides in Griffin.]