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"It would be the best thing that ever happened to the defense bar -- there would be the illusion of some sort of tough hombre on the job, while at the same time you would have someone who was the toughest disciplinarian of assistant D.A.'s," Jones says. "We would have the benefit of a guy whose actions on the bench show he's as tough on them as anybody in terms of demanding perfection and excellence. So the slackers who gum up the works and bring bad cases would be gone."
Schaffer, who might run for the job himself, isn't sure if Poe will seek the post. "He's very secure in what he's doing; he has a bird's nest on the ground," he says. "He's the king of the courtroom, and I don't know whether he wants to give that up and all the ass-kissing that goes along with it for the job of supervising 400 employees, some of whom will be found sniffing coke or hiding evidence. He's going to have to take the heat for all those people."
Poe, of course, isn't ready to divulge his intentions. Rumors that he already has a big-firm job lined up to tide him over during his run -- he'd have to resign his post once he files -- are just that, as far as he's concerned.
"I'm certainly thinking about it," he says. "People have asked me to run. I enjoyed being a prosecutor; it's a good job.But I've always enjoyed sitting here, too."
Of course, if he wins, another nightmare may take hold. He'll still be able to command the spotlight, picking and choosing the cases he wants to prosecute personally.
But another courtroom scene might haunt him. This time he's at the prosecution table, ready to call down the thunder of righteousness on this year's serial killer or cold-blooded murderer.
But now he's not the one giving the orders. Instead he's in the domain of another judge who runs the courtroom as he or she sees fit. With alarm Poe looks to see that somehow there are no cameras present. No one to record his melodramatic arguments for the evening news.
Oh, well, he thinks, I'll save it for a press conference outside.
And then, as his heart clutches and despair envelops him, he hears the judge intone words that constitute the harshest possible sentence.
"In this case," the judge says, "we'll be enforcing a strict gag rule...."
E-mail Richard Connelly at email@example.com.