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Deputy prosecutor makes efficiency a priority

The assignment was to pick a career and prepare a presentation.

Cami Lewis does not remember how she pinpointed it, but being a paralegal caught her attention as a fifth-grader.

“I went and interviewed a paralegal as part of the project and she said, ‘If you’re going to do this, you might as well just become an attorney,” Lewis said. “Invest a little more effort and become an attorney.’ She’s the one that kind of pushed me toward that.”

Lewis, 35, has not deviated from that plan since. After graduating from Curtis High School in University Place, she earned her bachelor’s degree in society and justice from the University of Washington and then went to law school at Willamette University in Salem, Ore.

The mother of two — her husband, Justin Zaug, also works in the Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office — is now a deputy prosecutor. Lewis, who has worked in that office since October 2000, was named as June’s employee of the month by the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners.

Lewis, who called the honor flattering, said the nomination came from her office reworking the way it files felonies. She said felonies used to be filed directly with the superior court, where they were assigned to a deputy prosecutor and then divided with a unit.

“Now we’re filing all of the felonies in district court and trying to determine the cases we’ll solve more quickly,” Lewis said. “You’re always going to have the cases that are fairly cut and dry and you’re going to resolve pretty quickly. What we’re trying to do is we’re weeding those out and resolving them quickly.”

Senior Prosecuting Attorney Tim Drury, who is Lewis’ supervisor, commended her work on the project.

“I don’t think things would be running as smoothly without Cami,” he said. “This has been a very challenging undertaking with wide-ranging implications. Cami has been instrumental in guiding this plan.”

Lewis works in the General Trial Unit — there also are drug, special-assault and administration units — which she said handles non-domestic-violence assaults and possession of stolen-property cases.

Some notable ones include former Port Orchard City Councilman Tye Moore's child-molestation conviction in January and the 2006 case of Richeal Rhoades, who was found guilty of second-degree felony murder in her 18-month daughter’s death from malnutrition. The girl’s body was found on the porch of their Jackson Park home.

“That’s the one that I think sticks out in my head the most,” Lewis said. “Just because it was a gruesome set of facts.”

Drury praised Lewis’ intelligence and said she has no problem with debating him on topics.

“She’s a strong advocate for her positions,” he said. “She has really good insight and is willing to speak her mind. Cami is really good at making me think. She’s top notch.”

Lewis said she simply is trying to make certain her department runs as efficiently as possible.

“I think it’s important for people to know their tax dollars are being spent wisely,” she said. “We are trying to be very good stewards of the public.”

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