VENICE — Former 12th Judicial Circuit assistant state attorney Betsy Young said she noticed changes in the office after her former colleague Ed Brodsky took over.
Now a defense attorney, Young said cases started being handled differently and attorneys from the office didn’t seem well trained.
“There was definitely a need to get the office back on track,” she said.
She tried to recruit someone to run for state attorney against him with no success, she said. Her husband suggested she do it, since she had all the ideas to fix the office.
As a woman and a Democrat, she told him she didn’t think she had a chance to win over voters. He won the debate by pointing out that the problems she had identified were nonpartisan.
Young said that she has seen and heard of questionable prosecutorial decisions that demonstrate a lack of training due to a lack of leadership.
In one case, she said, someone was prosecuted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon when the “firearm” in question consisted only of the stock of the gun. Under state law, a firearm has to be capable of firing a projectile, she said.
As state attorney she’d be more transparent about decisions to charge or not charge suspects and more communicative with victims — two things she said she’s heard complaints about.
“A lot of times it’s that you don’t want to have a hard conversation with someone,” she said. “But you have to.”
In addition to serving in the 12th Circuit from 2002 to 2007, Young was also a state attorney in Leon and Jefferson counties.
An idea she said she’d like to import from her earlier experience is to divide the offices attorneys into an “A,” “B” and “C” section, with newer attorneys starting with easier cases in the “C” section and moving up as they gain experience.
She would also try to increase diversity in the state attorney’s office, she said, and address a perceived wage disparity between male and female prosecutors.