Assistant District Attorney Blake Vrieze began his career as a prosecutor with the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office in 2018. The Mobile native was the first member of his family to go to college and he began his collegiate career at the University of South Alabama. After graduating with a bachelor’s in English Literature and Letters, he attended the University of Alabama School of Law where he was a member of the Federalist Society, Christian Legal Society, and Student Animal Legal Defense Fund. Blake is a family man who believes “that you should only become a prosecutor or law enforcement officer if you truly want to serve others. That said, if you are pursuing a career in the criminal justice system for the right reasons, don’t let the inevitable tsunami of negativity stop you. I didn’t.” We asked ADA Vrieze a few questions about his career as a prosecutor and his personal life to get to know him better!
Why did you choose to become a prosecutor for MCDA?
I see our office as a shield wall, protecting the people of our county from those who seek to victimize others. For as long as I can remember, I have felt compelled to stand in defense of those who have been victimized, especially those who cannot stand for themselves.
What drives you? What motivates you to come to work each day?
To paraphrase the theologian John Wesley, I strive to do all the good I can, by all the means I can, in all the ways I can, in all the places I can, at all the times I can, to all the people I can, as long as ever I can. I’m certainly not perfect in my adherence to this creed, but I try my best to live by this code.
Has there been anyone who has influenced you personally or professionally?
My wife is my muse, she helps to focus and channel my ambition and energy into something tangible and concrete. My daughter is my joy, my dad is my foundation, my mom is my advocate, and my grandparents have always been my biggest fans. These are the people who have made me into the man I am today, and each one of them inspires me.
What is the most difficult thing about your job?
It can be hard to process the kind of suffering we see sometimes. I’ve seen too many teenagers come through my courtroom hopelessly addicted to meth or heroin. I can send these young people to rehab, I can put them under the supervision of the two superb probation officers I regularly work with, but seeing them come back after a relapse can be heartbreaking, and you can feel them slipping away.
What is a challenging situation that you have overcome professionally, and how did you handle it?
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all, and the justice system is no exception. Adjusting my practice to this ever-changing landscape while juggling two dockets and a backlog of cases from the partial shutdown has been a challenge. That said, we have a fantastic team in my division, and Alisa, Summer, Carla, and Danielle, our Trial Coordinators, have really stepped up to the plate to help myself and the other ADA in my division keep pace.
Advice to someone seeking a career with the criminal justice system?
I honestly believe that you should only become a prosecutor or law enforcement officer if you truly want to serve others. That said, if you are pursuing a career in the criminal justice system for the right reasons, don’t let the inevitable tsunami of negativity stop you. I didn’t.
Have you worked on any cases that have changed you in some way? I don’t think I can say that any single case has changed me in any way. However, in the aggregate, the cases I have worked on have certainly solidified my belief that to be a good prosecutor is to serve others. I find that the greatest reward is often a simple expression of gratitude or relief from a victim who came away from a meeting or hearing feeling like they mattered, as a person, for the first time in a while.
What are you passionate about outside of your career?
Justice, The University of Alabama Crimson Tide, health and wellness, animals, and the superiority of Star Wars over Star Trek.