Rilwan Adeduntan ’07 is the U.S. Assistant Attorney in the Southern District of Florida, where one of his latest trials delivered a guilty verdict for a member of the FBI’s Most Wanted List. Keep reading to learn more about his post-law school career as a federal prosecutor.
What inspired you to become a prosecutor?
I was initially more attracted to defense law because I had a preconception that prosecutors were just out to convict everyone.
In my second summer at New England Law, I interned with the Middlesex DA’s office and had the chance to meet and get to know some prosecutors. My perception completely changed: I started to view prosecutors as protectors—of the victims, those who are hurt, injured, or even killed. Once I understood the value and impact of their work, I decided to dedicate myself to this area of law. Our criminal justice system is not perfect, but as a prosecutor—and especially as a prosecutor of color—I feel like I’m making a difference and changing people’s lives.
How has your role changed as a federal prosecutor compared to working on the state level?
I was a state prosecutor in Massachusetts for close to eight years. The biggest difference I’ve noticed since my transition to the federal level is resources: federal prosecutors can investigate cases far more thoroughly and on a higher level. But I think the most meaningful change for me personally has been having the honor to stand before a federal judge and say, "My name is Rilwan Adeduntan, and I represent the United States of America.” I believe that prosecutors are the gatekeepers of the criminal justice system, helping protect the society we live in. I value this role immensely.
What would surprise people most about your work?
The amount of time we dedicate to each of our cases. At the state level, establishing a basic level of probable cause is usually enough to bring a case to court. At the federal level, we will investigate cases for several years before we indict. As representatives of our country, we want to ensure that we’re more than confident we have the right person. This is why we have over 90% conviction rate in federal cases that go to trial. There should be no room for error.
What has been the most exciting trial you’ve worked on so far?
One of my recent trials involved prosecuting an individual who was listed among the FBI’s Most Wanted List. He had evaded capture for more than 20 years—they called him “The Ghost.” Working with an informant and members of the ATF, we were able to build a case against him and then apprehend him. At trial, he and his co-conspirators were convicted on fourteen counts of robbery, brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and felon in possession of a firearm. It was a big win for our team and a case I’ll never forget.
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