January 24, 2023
January 2023: Ben Wulff
Ben Wulff (he/him)
Associate General Counsel, Cribl, Inc.; President, ACS Arkansas Chapter; Former AUSA
I am now a proud member of ACS for the same reasons that the favorite son of Arkansas, Johnny Cash, wore black:
"I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime
But is there because he's a victim of the times"
My friend and I "hung a shingle" directly out of law school and practiced for several years in criminal defense, family law, and probate. I was elected as the small town's city attorney shortly after and thought I'd "made it" then as a trial lawyer. After several years my wife and I decided that the big time was calling, and we moved to Fort Smith, where I was hired as a state prosecutor, prosecuting sexual abuse, domestic violence, and drug trafficking cases. Almost five years later I caught my big break, joining the Department of Justice as an AUSA. I always took pride in standing up and representing our country for those 9+ years before leaving to work in privacy rights in the tech sector.
However, after 17 years as an attorney in a variety of roles, it was and is undeniable that there are systemic injustices throughout our country:
- No reasonable person can deny that two systems of justice exist here- one for the wealthy and connected- whose defense attorneys grind down the government and rarely receive the punishment their crimes demand- and one for the "poor and beaten down" who often get more than necessary; their "time" often shared by and between young children and elderly dependents.
- As a public corruption/white-collar prosecutor in DOJ, I saw the injustice of both literal and figurate assaults on our democracy through consistent and prolonged derision of public service, attacks on the independence of the judiciary and DOJ, unqualified appointments, the sale of pardons and favors, and the effect of repeated Government shutdowns on the morale and staffing of federal agencies.
- I see injustice also in women being subject to forced birth at the sword of the state. A country that does not offer protection that prevents lives and futures from being unwillingly sacrificed at the altar of a particular religious conviction, is not one in which the American Dream can thrive.
The legal community is in a rare position to ensure that OUR common rights are secure- women's rights, LGBTQ+ rights, voting rights, and civil rights. Too much has been spent, and too many have suffered to give up now. Until then, I still take inspiration from Mr. Cash, who gave comfort to the marginalized and hell to the powerful. Thanks y'all for all that you do.