An opera singer turned lawyer officially started his second career in the Cass County Prosecutor's Office at the beginning of October.
Galveston native Stephen Kitts, 44, now serves as a deputy prosecutor, specializing in juvenile and child support cases. Kitts, however, didn't always want to practice law.
Kitts went to Ball State University to study theatre and moved to New York for 11 years as an opera singer and scholarship winner at Mannes College - The New School for Music. But as time went on, Kitts said he wanted to leave show business.
"It’s pretty much a reboot," Kitts said about law, "it’s a second life for me, there’s no question."
Some people think of opera, Kitts said, as "highbrow" or "deeply intellectual," which he said is not the case at all. He said opera singers are trained to do something muscular and usually don't put much thought into the process.
Kitts said his brain was developing into a way of approaching the opera material and music in terms of story, characters and who did what. He analyzed what everyone was doing in the opera in terms of intent.
"I would make the joke, ‘When I get tired of this, I’d just go to law school,'" Kitts said. "People would say, ‘You should go to law school, you love to argue.’ It was all pretty much a joke."
However, Kitts said what was once a joke started to come to fruition. He decided to take the Law School Admission Test, or the LSAT, to see what would happen.
"[Most opera signers] just want to get it up in front of the audience as quickly as they can because time is money," Kitts said. "Nobody ever wanted to stop and think about what they’re actually doing. So I began to think about going into a field in which people wanted to think about what they were doing."
Kitts left New York and moved back to Cass County in summer 2009, and then started in law school in fall 2011 at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. During his undergraduate degree in theatre, Kitts said he focused on language-based theatre, such as Shakespeare and Greek tragedies.
"And of course now, I'm in a business that deals entirely with language," Kitts said.
Kitts, a 1988 graduate of Lewis Cass, interned with the Cass County Prosecutor's Office in the summer of 2013 and then with Marion County in fall 2013. Since January, Kitts has been an intern off and on with Cass County, until his employment Oct. 7. He graduated in May from law school.
In cases dealing with juveniles, Kitts said as a prosecutor, he wants those kids to not become an adult felon in the future. He said some ways to limit the possibility is through therapy, shorter detention or serving detention at home. There are more options in the courts and in the sentencing for juveniles than adults, Kitts said.
"In my estimation, what’s best for the juvenile is how to convince him he does not want to be an adult felon," Kitts said. "I don’t want that to happen to any kid, ever, anywhere."
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