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Opinion: My experience working with David Leavitt — I’m the 25th to leave

Prosecution is a difficult field, but it should not be like this. Personal experiences from the office have one employee waving red flags

SHARE Opinion: My experience working with David Leavitt — I’m the 25th to leave
Utah County Attorney David Leavitt stands at a podium and speaks.

Utah County Attorney David Leavitt appears at a press conference at the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office in Salt Lake City on Monday, March 1, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Twenty-four prosecutors have fled the Utah County Attorney’s Office since David Leavitt became county attorney. They have taken with them centuries of experience, leaving inexperienced attorneys to prosecute complex cases with predictably bad results. 

Prior to Leavitt’s tenure it was rare for more than two attorneys to leave each year and competition to fill those openings was steep. 

When I secured a job I felt like I won the lottery. I was thrilled to learn the art of prosecution from some of the best. 

Many of my mentors are now gone. Prosecution is inherently difficult; it is nearly impossible with a county attorney who impugns the motives of the entire criminal justice system including prosecutors without taking time to see how we handle our cases. Morale has diminished accordingly.

Leavitt proudly announced last year that we were on track to file half as many felonies. Meanwhile, crime rates in Utah County have remained static.

Current processes are so dysfunctional that it commonly takes months to decide if charges will or will not be filed; over a thousand cases are currently awaiting a decision. 

In an atmosphere so antithetical to effective prosecution, the mass departure is not surprising. One colleague told me on her last day, “I don’t feel good about what he’s doing. And I don’t feel good about myself working for him.” 

All this has translated into a frustrating lack of continuity for victims who may deal with a string of attorneys and worse outcomes as inexperienced prosecutors have no mentorship for complex cases.

The unprecedented exodus of prosecutors, individuals with a front-row seat to how Leavitt administers justice, should be a red flag for Utah County residents. 

Amy Pomeroy