President's Message

  William Vailliencourt, PAAM President

I’m honored to be PAAM’s President for 2019-2020.  Being a prosecutor is a unique role in the courtroom and the criminal justice system. Judges are supposed to be umpires impartially calling balls and strikes; defense attorneys zealously represent their clients. I know this may sound simplistic, but prosecutors truly are ministers of justice and the only person in the court whose job is to do the right thing and to do justice. That hasn’t changed and won’t change. We exercise our judgment and discretion in every case to truly ensure that justice is done.

To do this, PAAM provides continuing education for every prosecutor and works to advocate for victims and provide every prosecutor with the tools we need to do our jobs properly. For PAAM to perform its mission, the involvement of every prosecutor’s office in this state is crucial.  My focus is on the basics of what prosecutors do. Knowing the law - and knowing it better than anyone else in the courtroom. Protecting the victim's rights. Protecting the safety of the public. And ensuring that a defendant's rights are protected as well. As Prosecutors, we follow the law when it helps us. We follow the law when it hurts us. We don’t take advantage of those who might not know the rules. It's the role of the prosecutor not only to ensure that we're doing the right thing and following the law, but that all in that courtroom are performing their jobs properly as well. If there’s a mistake, it’s the victim who pays for it by having to go through the process all over again.

We demonstrate in every case that conviction integrity is not just a post-conviction idea but that it starts on day one. And that means knowing the latest laws, the latest judicial developments, the latest science. We have a tremendous roster of trial attorneys, sexual assault and child abuse specialists, appellate practitioners, juvenile prosecutors, and abuse/neglect attorneys. We need to take advantage of that expertise to benefit all of our offices.

While we focus on the basics, that doesn't mean we're not placing a priority in our continued efforts to improve the criminal justice system. We'll continue working with other stakeholders in the criminal justice system and the legislature to identify those areas that must improve and we’ll work to bring about positive change. Michigan’s prosecutors have always been ahead of the curve and we will continue that tradition.