I went to law school because I knew I wanted to use my voice to help others, as well as to express myself. I saw the law as a way to get my voice heard.
What shocked me most was how many cases were filled with mistakes, injustices, and plain old mediocre work. It was tough to sit in court and watch these injustices happen day in and day out. So, I thought, “Well, Robin, don’t just think about it, do something!” I did. I began writing, teaching, and advocating. As I did this, I was always mindful of my responsibilities and duties as a representative of the Los Angeles County DA’s Office.
Beltran was arrested on a Friday. Through the course of that weekend, top notch Santa Monica Police Department detectives and I worked together. They interviewed a number of teenagers who came forward, contained the classroom, secured the defendant's whereabouts, and obtained his confession to committing all acts with all victims.
As disturbing as the case was, the silver lining was that Thomas Beltran took responsibility early. He confessed both in interview and via lie detector. But that Monday, during a town-hall meeting at Lincoln Middle School, I witnessed parents standing up for him. I heard murmurs of “he’s not guilty,” and cries that the victims weren't telling the truth. I couldn't believe this. In my mind, I thought there were only one of two possibilities: Either these parents were the cruelest I have ever seen, or they were the most naïve parents I have ever seen. I preferred Option Two.
Yet it dawned on me that if the default response of these parents was to doubt the victim, what would happen if their own kids came to them? It was then that I knew I needed to use my experiences to educate and speak out instead of processing justice one case, one victim at a time. Armed with that story, I convinced Prometheus Books to allow me to write Predators and Child Molesters: A Sex Crimes DA Answers 100 of the Most-Asked Questions.
Thanks to my experience as a courtroom prosecutor, public speaking and "performing” are not new for me. Many of the same reasons I love being a trial lawyer -- using my strong voice to share a particular point of view -- apply to my love of communicating via television, radio, and the Internet. I could educate, pontificate, and ensure change. For the first time, I could say it as I saw it was with no censorship, no fear of angering my boss -- just expressing how I felt, purely, simply, and honestly.
My other frustration as a prosecutor was seeing how completely different public life is from private sector life. So often I went to work and was amazed that justice was ever dispensed, considering the many shortcomings inherent in the system. I didn’t understand the lack of accountability, the lack of diligence and the overall complacency of a justice system that was supposed to exist to protect our society.
Still, while I had not always been able to speak out and reveal my opinions, as a prosecutor I had a great deal of latitude and discretion in terms of how I handled my own cases. In them, I was making a difference and changing the lives of children who were being abused.
I never actually got in trouble, but I always felt that I was teetering at the edge. That was part of my decision: I wanted to leave before I blew it, while I still had a good relationship with the DA’s office, law enforcement, etc. Besides, I loved the people I worked with. I just wanted us to do better!