On Wednesday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I interviewed former Arizona prosecutor William E. Perry about “What It’s Really Like to Be a Prosecutor.” The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

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Podcast: 30 January 2013

What is the work of a prosecutor really like? In this interview, former Arizona prosecutor William E. Perry discussed the cases he prosecuted and various issues in criminal law – including the role of juries, standards of evidence, the drug war, confessions, and plea bargaining.

William E. Perry was a lawyer for 34 years. He spent seven years as a defense attorney and one year as a temporary judge. Most of the rest of the time he was a prosecutor for the Navajo Nation and four counties in Arizona. Mr. Perry supervised the criminal prosecutors in Arizona’s third largest county. He was was a major fraud and public corruption prosecutor, and then a homicide prosecutor, in Maricopa County. (That county includes Phoenix and the surrounding area. It was the sixth largest county in the United States at the time.) He is now retired.

Listen or Download:


  • Becoming a prosecutor, including prosecuting for the Navajo Nation
  • How criminal cases get to trial
  • Preliminary hearings and grand juries
  • The problem of corruption
  • The trial process
  • Prosecutor caseload
  • Sentencing
  • The reliability of juries
  • Judges versus juries
  • The problem with “the drug war”
  • Police as hamstrung versus out-of-control
  • Confessions
  • Plea bargaining
  • Most interesting and rewarding cases

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