Beauty of the Week

Deputy District Attorney Leah Beverly: A Woman in Power

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Leah Beverly is the definition of a powerful woman. As a wife, expecting mother and one of Clark County’s youngest District Attorneys, Mrs. Beverly is certainly wearing her #blackgirlmagic well. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with this beautiful soul. Here’s what she had to say about her continuous success:

1.) What inspired you to pursue a career in law?

I ended up going to Law School at the University of Georgia and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do when I first went to college. While I was in Law School, I did an internship at an organization that helped get temporary protective orders for women who were victims of domestic violence. Since that time, I really had an interest in the prosecution side of crime. I think it’s an area where we don’t have a lot of young black woman. The area of prosecution specifically is an area where we can really make a difference.

2.) I’m glad you said that because actually, my next question is, what prompted you to become a prosecutor as opposed to being a defense attorney?

I get that a lot because there seems to be an expectation of young black attorneys to go in on the defense side of representing people. I think that is absolutely wonderful but, it wasn’t for me. I did a prosecution clinic when I was in law school and that seemed to be where the power was to make a difference. When you’re a prosecutor, you’re the one deciding what, if any charges to file. You’re the one who is negotiating cases. You’re the one putting that offer out there. I think that being in charge of how the case proceeds is a really powerful thing that can be used to make a difference in our community.

3.) I know that you’ve prosecuted roughly about 1,000 cases in your career. What would you say was one of the most difficult cases you’ve had to prosecute?

I had a case that involved child pornography and basically what happened was the step-father put a video camera in the apartment that he shared with his girlfriend and her three children. He was filming these children using the bathroom and taking a shower. You could see him on video setting up the camera and that was a really difficult case because the mother of the children refused to believe that this was happening. When we went to trial, she actually ended up testifying for the defense. I had a girl who was about eighteen-years-old that was one of the victims and it was difficult because her own mother wasn’t even supporting her. Cases like that are where I really feel like I’m making a difference because now he’s in prison for 35 years to life and she finally feels like somebody believed her.

4.) What are some of the difficulties that you’ve faced as a result of being a young, black woman in the field of law?

I think that sometimes people expect me as a black prosecutor to not be as harsh on members of our own community but my goal is to treat crime fairly across the board. So it doesn’t matter what your economic status or race is, my job is to treat crimes the way they should be treated. There’s been times where I’ve dismissed cases and made difficult decisions but there’s an expectation that I should be harsh on one race or less harsh on another race. I think my job is to do justice where justice is due. That power has to be used very carefully and used in a way that I’m not discriminating against anybody.

5.) When covering the recent O.J. Simpson case, did you experience any intimidation knowing that the previous murder case that he beat is still one of the most talked about cases in American history?

I was nervous because in that particular stage, he was asking for a new trial claiming that his attorney had made a bunch of errors during the actual trial phase of his Las Vegas case. I came in when he was asking for a new trial. I think I felt more pressured because I was very new at that time. I had only been the District Attorney for less than a year at that point and so I felt more pressure as an incoming DA versus pressure from his California case. Of course, it’s a famous case and we all know about it, but I felt more anxiety about not messing up the case as a new lawyer on national television. It was more internal pressure than pressure from the outside world.

6.) How did you get the opportunity to star in Investigation Discovery’s new show Las Vegas Law?

Our District Attorney was presented with the opportunity from the network. He sent an email basically saying we’re going to be filming this show and if you have any cases that you think would be an interesting fit for the show please contact the producers. I had some interesting cases coming up and so I reached out to the producers and we had a conversation about the cases that I was pitching to them. They happened to pick up two of them and that’s how I got involved in it.

7.) I know that you have worked very closely with Domestic Violence, is there any particular reason that this cause is so dear to you? Statistically, 1 in every 3 women have either experienced Domestic Violence personally or someone close to them has been a victim. What about this particular cause makes you so passionate?

I knew people in college who had been victims of Domestic Violence and I really got into it after working at that clinic in law school. One of the difficult things about domestic violence is that there are so many layers involved into getting out of a particular situation. I had personally been in bad relationships, not to the level of violence but previous unhealthy situations. In that regard, having gone through my own personal situations, people who are the victim of domestic violence are often judged by people saying they should leave but there are so many layers. Doing what I can do about that on the prosecution side is something that I can do to really change someone’s life. Getting someone out of a situation that could remain to get worse is something that I really feel strongly about.

8.) Can you tell us more about the PAVE organization? They obviously must think very highly of you to feature you as their guest when they honor Vice President Biden and Lady GaGa. Have you done any work with them personally? Do you intend to in the future?

I just recently heard about them. They heard about me through the show and they were allowing me to come to their event. I haven’t done any specific work with them but the organization is about breaking the silence of sexual assault. On Las Vegas Law, both of my cases happen to be sexual assault cases and I do a lot of those cases. I’m really interested in working with PAVE because they start at the root. Their goal is to give someone support to even come forward in the first place. Without organizations like them, I can’t do my job. Being able to give support and guidance to victims and survivors, encouraging them to not be ashamed to come forward and go to law enforcement, that is exactly what I need to do my job.

9.) While we’re on the subject of sexual assault, how do you feel about the Brock Turner case?

I’ve been seeing a lot of outrage in the media due to the fact that he got six months. As a prosecutor seeing these cases all day everyday, that’s not necessarily unusual to me. At the end of the day, it’s the judge who determines the sentence. I’m really not surprised that he was only sentenced to six months. I am disgusted by that because I’ve had cases where a victim could not remember and I understand why they came to the charges that they came to. What I don’t understand is, why he was only given six months. I’m disgusted by it, but I’m not surprised. This case just happens to be getting national attention but it’s not rare at all. It’s sad and insulting, but not unusual.

10.) What advice would you give any of our readers that are inspired to pursue a career in law?

If law is something that interests you, pick an area that you can make a difference in. There’s a lot of different types of law but as a lawyer you’re going to work a lot so make sure it’s something that you’re passionate about. Yes, we all want to make big bucks but if you’re going to work 60 to 70 hours a week, make sure it’s something you enjoy. At the end of the day, we’re civil servants. We should be doing things that we actually care about.

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I couldn’t agree with Ms. Beverly more, do what you love. If your current career isn’t your passion, make your passion your career. During our conversation, Mrs. Beverly also told me that she’s keeping the gender of her baby a surprise. She and her husband decided are only concerned about having a happy, healthy baby. In the mean time, let’s keep our fingers crossed for team girl.

Darshay K. Lampley is a Broadcast Journalism major and Creative Writing minor at Jacksonville State University. Upon graduating, she anticipates a lucrative career in the entertainment industry. Darshay is an entertainment journalist, on-air radio personality, and is currently writing her first book. Darshay believes that her ambition along with her strong faith in God will lead her down the pathway to success. "God is within her, she will not fail." Psalm 46:5

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