HILLSBORO—A familiar face will be making an appearance at Hillsboro municipal court. Susan Robson, the former Marion County Attorney, has been hired by the city to act as city prosecutor.
Robson was the Marion County Attorney from 2000 to 2016 and rejoined private practice in January of 2016. She will be dividing her time between offices in Marion and Hillsboro.
“I never thought I wanted to be a courtroom attorney. I thought I wanted to be a business attorney. But I really enjoy working with law enforcement,” she said.
Robson said, from her time as county attorney, she established positive relationships with officers across the county.
She said the role of the city prosecutor is “to work with police in order to enforce the city ordinances and help make it a safe and better community for everyone.”
With 16 years of experience as a prosecutor, Robson said she has a strong understanding of the best outcomes for cases.
“You need to be able to work with police and be on the same page with them as to what the outcome should be in the confines of the law,” she said.
As the city prosecutor, Robson will be working within the municipal court, which primarily deals with traffic law and low-level misdemeanor violations.
“Cases where people need to be on probation and seeing someone regularly, that, in my opinion, is best handled by the district court,” she said.
Even on low-level violations, Robson said it is important to “make sure you have the elements of the crime you want to charge, and I have always found it better to look through, and if a case has the elements to charge the crime, then you should charge that crime.”
As a prosecutor, Robson understands her work will not always be popular. But resolution and reasonable expectations are key to a functioning court.
“You can’t please everyone, but you can try to come up with something that works,” she said.
Being familiar with the community can be a challenge, but Robson said she keeps all court cases strictly professional.
“Sometimes you are a prosecutor, or you have a traffic ticket on someone you know. You have to be professional. While you may have a social relationship, that shouldn’t color how you treat someone in court. I think that’s really true in small towns, period,” she said.
Candidly, she added, not having school-aged children has greatly reduced the number of cases with social relationships.
As a prosecutor, Robson said it can be difficult for residents to not be defensive.
“I do better if you’re just flat out honest and truthful. It’s hard to be when I’m the prosecutor. If we treat each other with respect, we can get through this process,” she said.
Robson has empathy for those navigating the municipal court system.
“I’ve had speeding tickets. I’ve had kids. I’ve been a kid. I think everybody makes mistakes; some are bigger than others,” she said.
Accountability is a key part of working through the courts, and Robson acknowledged it can be uncomfortable.
“Hopefully we’re all moving in the same direction. Accept that sometimes you will have to accept the consequences of your actions, and we’ll try to get through as best we can,” she said.