INTERVIEW: ELIZABETH STOCK, ASSISTANT STATE’S ATTORNEY, HOMICIDE, BALTIMORE CITY STATE’S ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
Elizabeth (Liz) Stock graduated with Honors from Fox Lane High School in Bedford, NY in June of 1997. After finishing high school, she attended Lehigh University in their School of Arts and Sciences. Liz received a Presidential academic scholarship as well as a partial vocal scholarship to assist with financing her degree. She also helped cover her tuition by waiting tables at a local restaurant. Liz graduated in 2001, receiving a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology with a double minor in Communications and Public Relations. She completed her Sociology thesis on the study of how incarceration affects juveniles.
After graduating from Lehigh, Liz was given the opportunity to stay on tuition-free for one year because she graduated with a GPA above 3.5. She declined the opportunity in favor of immediately attending law school at the University of Maryland. While attending the University of Maryland School of Law, she took a full course load every semester while also working at a local sports bar to cover the cost of tuition. This financial assistance allowed her to accept unpaid internships each summer with a different prosecuting agency so that she could obtain insight and work experience in the field of criminal prosecution, which was her main focus in law school. Liz worked for two different district attorney’s offices in her home state of New York, in Westchester County, and then in Brooklyn, to see the difference between suburban life and city life. In order to have a balanced perspective in the field of criminal justice, she enrolled in the Criminal Defense Clinic while in law school to gain exposure to both sides of the criminal justice system.
Knowing that criminal prosecution was her end goal and upon graduating from law school in 2004, Liz quickly accepted a part-time position with the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office in the Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Jury Trial Division. Because the position was part-time, she was able to continue working in the office while studying for the bar exam and continuing her employment at local restaurants where she could stay connected to the Baltimore City community as well as supplement a part-time income. When Liz passed the July 2004 bar exam, she continued working at the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, then as a law clerk, until a position as an Assistant State’s Attorney became available in July of 2005. Since then, she has worked her way up through district court, misdemeanor, narcotics, general felony, firearms prosecutions, and now her current position in the homicide division. She has attended every training opportunity that came her way to constantly grow and develop as a trial attorney. Liz loved the exposure and experience she gained with each unit she moved through and is currently thriving in her “dream job” as a homicide prosecutor.
Describe a day in the life of an Assistant State’s Attorney.
The one thing I really love about this job is that every day is different depending on what’s “high priority” that day. If I am close to a trial date, I will spend the day reviewing evidence, which could include listening to recorded statements, looking over police reports and photographs. Trial prep for a murder trial usually takes a good two weeks. I need to draft a timeline of the murder and its investigation. From that, I go through all the evidence and decide which pieces of evidence will be used in the trial, and who I will be getting them in through. Then I create my witness list. Once that is done, I will meet with each witness and go over what their testimony will include and what evidence I will be showing them.
If I’m not in “trial mode” I am usually reviewing files to get discovery materials sent out to defense attorneys. If I am all caught up on my discovery disclosure obligations (which hardly ever happens), I will spend my day working on written motions in post-conviction matters.
And if that all wasn’t enough, I am constantly receiving new homicide investigations. So I will periodically check in with the investigating detectives and see what assistance they need on unsolved murders.
What initially attracted you to this field? What are some of the rewards of this area of law and the legal profession?
The fact that every day is new and challenging is really appealing to me. The energy of being in trial is great. I can’t imagine spending my days doing document review and legal writing. I am adversarial by nature, so the trial work is the best part of the job. But the end result is the most rewarding. Helping a family have some closure about an absolutely horrific life event is indescribable. To help the family of a murder victim be a little bit more okay with the violent loss of their loved one makes the stress of the job seem more manageable.
How would you compare the reality of your profession to the picture you had of it before entering and while in law school? Are there downsides to your field?
Everything moves a lot slower in real life than it does on TV! I always saw myself in the role of a criminal prosecutor, so to still be doing my dream job after 13 years of work experience, and to reach this level, is great. There are always downsides to every job. Working with homicide victims, and dealing with such violence is emotionally draining, and sometimes it’s a thankless job that is constantly being scrutinized.
Do you have any advice for an undergraduate interested in pursuing this body of law and the legal profession?
Try to get as much exposure to different things while you can. You can always find a way to make money, but if you come home after an 8 or 10 hour day hating the way you just spent your time, will it really be worth it?
Elizabeth Stock is happy to talk to students and can be reached by email at: EStock@stattorney.orgTags: 2017, Newsletter, pre-law, September