She's had chances to go into private practice, but for more than a decade Angel Woodruff has served in the Cape Girardeau County prosecutor's office. She's Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle's second in command, handling a variety of cases.
BT: You've been with the prosecutor's office for more than 10 years. Why that instead of a private practice?
Woodruff: I really enjoy my work. I have had opportunities to go into private practice and make more money, but have passed on them. I feel very fortunate to have a job I don't mind coming to every day.
BT: What are some types of cases, in general, you work on that the public doesn't hear about as much?
Woodruff:Most of them! The public only hears about a tiny fraction of our cases. Prosecutors and law enforcement work with people across the community every day, and those people and their cases matter every bit as much as the cases that receive a lot of attention from the press. Everything from violent assaults to robberies, burglaries as well as adult and child sexual abuse cases are things we handle with little to no public interest shown. Of course, I don't believe the public is indifferent; they just don't know about the level of crime in the community.
BT: You've spoken about domestic violence in the past, saying those cases can be among the most frustrating and toughest to prosecute. What advice can you give victims of domestic violence going through the judicial process?
Woodruff: Call the police. Make reports. Talk to your family and friends about what is happening. Keep a journal, have a safety plan. Law enforcement cannot help unless we know there is a problem. Once the police and prosecution are involved, stay cooperative. So often, victims finally report abuse but then refuse to cooperate with us after that. Abusers are very good at convincing their victims that no one will care to help them or that no one can protect them, but that is not true. Everything an abuser tells their victim is geared toward maintaining control over them. People do care and they do want to help.
BT: What do you enjoy most about your job? What's the most rewarding part?
Woodruff: I work with an amazing group of prosecutors, staff and police officers who are dedicated to their work. Sometimes, we do feel as though we have made a difference and when that happens we feel very fortunate to be doing what we do.