New prosecutor sworn in

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

As Elmore County offices opened for the day on July 1, the county's newest Prosecuting Attorney was about to be sworn in.

Her family and friends gathered in the Commissioners Room to watch as Kristina Schindele took the oath of office administered by County Clerk Gail Best, and then she was ready to hit the deck running.

One of the first items of business for the new prosecutor was a staff meeting. "We are going to be a good team," said Schindele. "We all have the same goal -- to do the best we can for the community. This office is committed to serving the victims of crime and advocating for justice. The goal is to see justice is done in every case."

Schindele was selected to fill the prosecuting attorney's seat after a vacancy was created when Aaron Bazzoli accepted the magistrate position for the Fourth Judicial District. No stranger to the Elmore County Prosecutor office, she served as deputy prosecutor from 1999 to 2003, before moving on to work in the Attorney General's office.

Although not a native to Mountain Home, she has lived here most of her life. "My father was in the military and we first came here when I was in the first grade. I went to school on base from first through fourth grades. Then my parents bought a house here in town, the same house they still live in by the way, and I went to East Elementary." Graduating from Mountain Home High School in 1989, she then continued her education at Idaho State in Pocatello. She graduated from there in 1993 with a degree in journalism.

For the next year she served as a VISTA volunteer, before entering law school in St. Paul, Minn. After graduating in 1997 from Hamline University, Schindele worked there for two years prior to returning to Mountain Home to serve as deputy prosecutor.

As deputy prosecutor, she "handled a bit of everything over the years -- child protection, mental health and then felony and juvenile prosecution."

In August, 2003, Schindele moved on to the Attorney General's office where she worked on criminal appeals and some federal habeas cases, "lots of research. Oddly enough, I think it was my time away from litigation that will help me be a better litigator now." She explained that much of the research she did during her time with the AG's office helped give her a better understanding of law and the reasons behind the law.

As she takes over the office, the new prosecutor is aware that there is already a major felony case ahead for the office. John Valen is charged with the murder of his wife, Jodi Lynn, on March 5, 2005. Schindele said she is prepared and is excited to be working with the Mountain Home Police Department and Idaho State Police to a successful conclusion of the case. "We are ready to tackle the obstacles that may present themselves."

She noted that three of the last four murders in Elmore County seem to have a common denominator, domestic violence, and suggests it is something that may need a closer look. "Is it the result of an upsurge in domestic violence in Elmore County or is it just a fluke? It is a troubling question and something we need to look at. We need to work closely with law enforcement at all levels to see how can we, as a community, address it?"

Schindele explained that the prosecutor's office will strive to meet certain standards: community protection, retribution, deterrence and rehabilitation in every criminal case.

Outside the office, she hopes to take an active role in the community she calls home. In the past she was involved with Law Day activities with local students and looks forward to doing that again. She hopes to find an opportunity to be involved in community education activities, work with the domestic violence council and maybe civic groups, to contribute what she can.

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