First Woman State's Attorney Reflects on First Year

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
Christina (Judd) Mennie marked a milestone Dec. 17 in her career as an attorney, as well as making history in Putnam County, serving as the first female state’s attorney in the county for one year. Mennie took over the office after Jim Mack was elected to the 10th District Judicial seat in 2014.

The NewsTribune sat down with Mennie to discuss her first year in office, as well as her 2016 bid for election.

NT: What made you decide to accept the job of state’s attorney after it was offered by the county board?
CJM: The fact that the county needed someone to fill a vacant seat was a big part of it. I was approached by several people asking me to consider it and although it was hard closing my practice, I wanted to serve the county in the best way possible.
This County is my home so it all made sense.

NT: What has been your biggest learning curve so far when it comes to prosecuting instead of defending?
CJM: I think that being a defense attorney actually helped me. I thought it was going to be hard to transition, but I feel that it has actually given me a broader spectrum and the ability to look at both sides of the case in an objective way.

NT: I know you had some fears about taking it. Have any of those issues come up? If so, how have you dealt with them?
CJM: Since I grew up here, I am fortunate to know just about everyone. I was initially worried how that would play out, but it has worked out. In this line of work, people are going to be unhappy due to the circumstances they find themselves in once in a courtroom setting. I deal with that by following the law and working with people as best as the law will allow. My main goal is to do what is best for our county.

NT: What are some of the things you have done as state’s attorney that you are most proud of?
CJM: I have had several large prison sentences imposed. The majority of those sentences have been drug-based offenses. Because of that, I have begun looking into programs that target drugs in our area. These programs take some time to get off the ground. Since I have only been in office a year, I haven’t had sufficient time to get those programs fully implemented, but I am hopeful that the county will see the job I have done thus far and grant me that opportunity next November.

NT: What made you decide to run for office in 2016?
CJM: I really love my job and this county.
I am lucky to have great staff and courthouse personnel that help effectively run this office. We also have an efficient county board who are working very hard to make ends meet through this financial crisis in our state. In addition, I’m lucky to have a great working relationship with an outstanding police force that does an excellent job bringing me solid cases. All of those things were factors in the decision.

NT: What is one piece of advice you would give to someone coming to court?
CJM: Show up! I am amazed by people who do not show for their court dates. I am sure it is either intimidating or not the thing you want to be doing that day, but if you are not there, a warrant for your arrest will be issued. We work with people so stay in contact with the office and attend your court dates.

Source: News Tribune