For nearly 40 years, Paulette Lock has been helping prosecutors in Cole and Boone counties get their jobs done.
Lock said she enjoyed her time in Columbia because that was where she met her husband, Kevin, who was a probation and parole officer at the time. When he switched to a career in insurance, Kevin's company transferred him to Jefferson City. Not wanting to commute every day, Paulette decided to take a position with the Cole County Prosecutor's Office, and as of September, she's been there for the 28 years.
"As a legal staff assistant, we are assigned to one or two of the prosecutors in the office, and we assist them by helping keep track of court dates or help them when they have jury or bench trials," Lock said. "There's a lot of things I might do with my attorney that others may not. The caseload of the attorney probably makes as much of a difference than anything else. There are things you do or don't when you have sexual assault cases or drug cases."
Lock said she has found her work to be rewarding, and every day is a new day.
"The day I walk out of here for the last time, there will still be things I don't know," she said. "Dealing with the things we have to is a continuing process. Some of these cases are upsetting, and you find yourself involved, to a point. It can be sad, but if the end result is you know you've helped somebody, it's worth it."
Although she couldn't discuss specifics, Lock said there are several cases that stand out from her years of work.
"When you found out what happened, you're like, 'Oh my gosh,' and you feel like you're part of that family having to go through this," Lock said. "Sometimes, it pays not to get too involved with a case. Reading about the case, though, is helpful because you understand why your attorney is doing the things they have to in regards to the case.
"There are times in this job when you might feel like saying, 'Well this is how it really happened,' but you can't do that because the information isn't part of the public record," she continued. "You don't release anything because you're still working on the case.
"I didn't always agree with how the attorney might have handled something, but you learn to adapt," Lock added. "Everyone is different."