Colleen Janssen was first widely known to the public as the Wake County assistant district attorney whose father was kidnapped in 2014 allegedly out of revenge because of her prosecution in 2012 of a man who received a life sentence as a habitual offender. The man was convicted of orchestrating the kidnapping while in jail.
That conviction came on the same day that the state Court of Appeals overturned two convictions Janssen won on robbery charges against two men. Janssen, who has resigned, had been under question for alleged misconduct in that case. The men contended that Janssen urged a Raleigh police officer to delay bringing drug charges against her key witness until the two men had been tried.
District Attorney Lorrin Freeman had suspended Janssen with pay and praised her for her 10 years in the DA’s office after the prosecutor resigned. But Freeman did the right thing with the suspension, and the N.C. State Bar is likely to review the misconduct allegations, as it should.
The justice system must maintain not just an appearance of fairness, but real fairness, and prosecutors have to try cases without appearing to manipulate the system in their favor.