AN AUDIENCE WITH THE POPE
Anthony Pope on the murder trial he had no business trying, working
the Newark narcotics beat, and casting calls with Sidney Lumet
INTERVIEW CONDUCTED AND EDITED BY AMY KATES
Q: So you were once a police officer?
A: Yeah. I don’t think there was a younger
detective in Newark ever. I was a detective
at 21. … I came on the job at 19; I was in a
radio car for about a year and a half, and I
was promoted to detective in the narcotics
squad and I worked undercover.
Q: Did you enjoy being a—
A: Cop? There are few things that are as
exciting as being in a radio car in the city
of Newark and working with a partner and
every night not knowing what you’re going
to be confronted with. It really tests you
as a man.
You see another side of the city. You see
another side of people.
Q: How did the law figure in?
A: After testifying in court and after seeing
how lawyers interacted, I figured I could
[be a lawyer]. I wanted to be a prosecutor.
Then after a year and half as an assistant
prosecutor … I really didn’t enjoy it. I felt
that the Constitution and all of the liberties
afforded us could be better served on the
other end. I felt that certain people were
treated differently in the law than others,
so being born and raised in Newark, and
being an inner-city guy and a former police
officer … I just thought, “I want to get on
the defense side.”
Q: And you represent cops.
A: It was a very easy segue.
I represented the police commissioner
in Newark when he was indicted federally.
It turned out to be a plea. [I had one case]
in which a police officer was accused of
raping someone in a radio car. He was
acquitted. I had another case where a
police officer was accused of shooting
someone off duty. He was acquitted. I
haven’t lost a civil rights case where I’ve
represented a police officer who’s been
accused of excessive force.
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