Friday, February 1, 2013

A Tragedy in Kaufman, A Shock For Us All

By now, I expect you've read about the prosecutor gunned down as he was on his way to work. If not, read this. You'll know, too, that I don't often touch subjects that are fresh in the news or dwell on matters of great seriousness because this blog has always lived on the lighter side of life.

But I can't let this pass.

I didn't know Mark Hasse, though maybe our paths crossed at a conference somewhere. I'm shocked at his death nonetheless because by all accounts he was nothing but a white knight, looking out for the good people of Kaufman and putting away the bad guys. And I desperately hope that with the Texas Rangers, the FBI, and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on their trail, the bastards who shot Mark Hasse will be brought to justice.

There are prosecutors all over the country, I think, who will feel the reverberations of this crime and I was interested to read that it's already being talked about in the media: the fear that we all carry within us, the danger that is slight, never discussed, but lurks in the back of our minds.  Could it be me?

In my short career as a prosecutor, not even five years, I've been in three situations where I felt threatened, where I looked over my shoulder every night for two weeks. Trust me, it's no way to live. Only once did I truly believe someone might be angry (and stupid) enough to retaliate but of course how can you ever know?

Erik Nielsen, a former ADA here and now a trainer of prosecutors, wrote on his Facebook page: "we routinely deal with very dangerous people; people whose thoughts on life and violence are skewed or completely severed."  He said what I was thinking the moment I heard about this shooting: "Every prosecutor has this fear."  HuffPo quoted him today with an article entitled just that.

This hits home for me not just because I am a prosecutor (because of one of those threats I mentioned, I am now a gun owner) but because I ride out most weeks with the cops. I see the guns and tasers they carry, the vests they wear, I know about the hand-to-hand training they receive. For sure, the dangers they face are tenfold, a hundredfold, what we are likely to encounter but thinking about this incident makes me realize how defenseless and unready we prosecutors are for naked aggression.

But as Erik said and as the people who shot Mark Hasse need to know: you can't stop justice with a bullet. You can scare the good people who prosecute cases and you can even kill us. But guess what? The moment you do that others will step into our shoes, and you will lose that fight because there are more of us than there are you, there are more good people than bad.

I am confident that the cowards who did this will be caught, but I am absolutely certain that the wheels of justice will continue to turn. And the bad guys who stand there with guns drawn trying to slow or stop the good guys like Mark Hasse will never, ever prevail.

RIP Mark Hasse.


  1. I pray you always remain safe, Mark.

  2. I have been thinking of you since this happened. It's so appalling and sad. I am sending prayers to Mark Hasse's loved ones and hoping the shooter is caught and brought to justice! Sending prayers to you and your brave colleagues as well!

  3. Thank you for your work, and your writing, and for sharing your thoughts on this blog. I had never considered before what a prosecuting attorney might risk, physically, in this dangerous society of ours. I hope nothing bad happens to you.

  4. This is so sad. Stay safe, Mark. As much as I loved hearing all your stories at Bouchercon, what you do really is scary and dangerous. But I'm glad you're one of the good guys.

  5. Thank you friends. I'm pretty careful, try to stay vigilant and all that. I don't think our job is inherently dangerous, though it does put us shoulder to shoulder with some interesting characters. Frankly, I always think I'm more likely to be punched in the hooter during court than anything.

    I hope that doesn't happen, I like my hooter the way it is. :)

  6. What a great article about an even greater person - Mark was the epitome of a gentleman and loved by many. He was a credit to his profession, to say the very least.


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