Job: Vanderburgh County Prosecuting Attorney
His Story: After running against longtime county prosecutor Stan Levco for the second time, Republican Nicholas Hermann beat out the 20-year veteran in 2010. Hermann now is in his second year as prosecuting attorney.
His Resume: Studying chemistry at Ball State University, Hermann completed an internship with Eli Lilly and Co., which led to an interest in law. He received his law degree from the Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis. While at IU, Hermann worked for the Marion County Public Defender’s Office. Since graduation, he has worked with the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office, in private practice from 2005 until 2009, and with Gerling Law Offices before being sworn in as prosecutor.
His Perspective: “It seems like we just run around and put out fires; everything is the most important thing until someone else shows up and they have something. It’s a high-paced job in that you have to be able to switch back and forth from one load to another. But it is what I expected.”
On the Correlation Between Chemistry and Law:
I was a chemistry major at Ball State. I had an Honors College fellowship to study anti-cancer, anti-tumor drugs. I then did an internship with Eli Lilly and Co. working with one of their anti-cancer drugs, Gemzar. While there, I saw the disconnect between the scientist and the patent attorneys. I went to law school to bridge that gap.
On Changes Since Becoming Prosecutor:
Of the many changes that we have made to the office in the last year, the one that we are most proud of is making the office more proactive as opposed to reactive. We have tried to increase our presence in the community, help more people seek drug treatment, and engage the community addressing the problems facing Vanderburgh County. We have worked to improve relationships with other branches of law enforcement. We have entered into a partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to address issues of violent crime, have taught classes for the Southwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, and have deputy prosecutors who attend regular meetings with other branches of law enforcement to encourage a free flow of information between agencies.
On the Way the Public Views His Position:
I think that people sometimes get a skewed view of law enforcement. If you view the prosecutor’s office and the police department as something that’s going to solve your problems and keep your community safe, that’s a flawed view. But, if you look at it as a tool in order to do that — when we get community involvement, strong neighborhood groups, strong crime prevention, and tips from the community — we’re very good at what we do.
On Time Off:
I’ve taken four days off in the last two years, and there’s been a press conference called on three of them. My wife tells me we’re going on vacation this summer, but I don’t know if I believe her. It’s not that bad because of cell phones and email. The police and sheriff departments work 24/7, so third and second shifts occasionally have questions or calls. I never really get away from it.
On Job Satisfaction:
I like to think we don’t see the most rewarding thing. That, for me, is when you prevent someone from making a bad decision. We don’t typically see our success stories. If we are able to turn someone’s life around, they don’t come back. I have worked on both sides of the aisle, and I have even done some judge pro tem (temporary judge) work in the past, but by far the most fulfilling job that I have ever had is working for the prosecutor’s office. As a private attorney, you are hired to advocate for your client. Sometimes the facts and the law are on your side, sometimes they aren’t. As a prosecutor, your client is the community. Your job is to do what is right, whether that is to seek to send someone to prison, to treatment, or home to their family. The job of the prosecutor is not solely to secure convictions; it is to see that justice is done.
On His Future:
I view this as a high-energy job, and it’s something where you can never get enough accomplished, so you’re continuously trying to push yourself. When you don’t have the drive to do that, I think you need to get out. I don’t think it’s something that I want to do for the rest of my life, but hopefully for the next several years.