There has been a new face making regular appearances at the Callaway County Courthouse over the past two weeks.
On Jan. 13, Daniel French started as the second assistant prosecutor with the Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney's office, where he will handle various caseloads including traffic offenses, property crimes and misdemeanor assault cases.
Prosecuting Attorney Chris Wilson said in the short time he has been here, French has started to settle in and work well with the other members of his staff.
"He's great. He's watching and learning," Wilson said. "He has great potential."
French - who currently lives in Columbia but has plans to move to Fulton soon - said he is looking forward to becoming part of the Callaway community.
"I wanted to come here because I really wanted to prosecute, and I really love the mid-Missouri area," French said. "I'm looking forward to the ability to serve the citizens of Callaway while seeking justice."
He said that combination of service and justice is what drew him to becoming a prosecutor in the first place.
"I like that you have that element of service and the opportunity to fight for justice," French said. "I like it because of the ability prosecutors have to really seek a just outcome - you have the ability, if the evidence is there, to get justice, but if it turns out the person is innocent, a prosecutor also has the ability to dismiss charges."
Wilson said French's enthusiasm for the job is one of the biggest reasons he decided to hire the 2004 University of Missouri graduate, who earned his law degree at the University of Denver in 2008.
"We tried to look for someone we thought would make a good trial lawyer, and we try to get someone with experience, but that's not always easy with our budget," Wilson said. "He had some experience with mock trials, and he was willing to accept the salary we were offering.
"You don't make a lot of money doing this, so if you find someone who is wanting to do it from the heart, that is good. To me, to love your job is a great thing - my hope is that anyone who works here loves their job."
He also cited French's time on the Mizzou Mock Trial team as both a competitor and as a coach and his service last year as the director of the Mid-Missouri Invitational Mock Trial Tournament.
"He stood out to all of us," Wilson said, referring to the hiring committee consisting of himself, first assistant prosecutor Casey Clevenger and the prosecuting attorney's office manager. "We felt his personality fit in well, and we liked the experience he had in mock trial."
He said French jumped in feet first, with some assistance from his new coworkers.
"He has an assigned case load and he's transitioning into that," Wilson said. "The first assistant and I are going through the cases with him."
Two weeks into that trial by fire, French said he is enjoying the process of getting settled into his new job and his new home.
"I'm looking forward to getting to know the community more in general. One thing I've already discovered is the Fulton CafÃ© has an amazing Cuban coffee - it was love at first sip," French said. "I look forward to meeting as many members of the community as I can and serving to the best of my ability, and letting people know if they need anything they can call me."