For 27 years, First Assistant Prosecutor Doreen Yanik has served the people of New Jersey through her work at the Union County Prosecutor’s Office (UCPO). Beyond prosecuting criminal cases, Yanik has been instrumental in developing and instituting office-wide programs and has served as a liaison to the Union County Bar Association. From petitioning the County to train law enforcement officers on mental health issues; to creating policies on electronic case processing techniques; to developing policies and training materials on bail reform, speedy trial, and criminal justice reform; Yanik’s influence has facilitated progressive transformation throughout UCPO and Union County.
After a clerkship with the Honorable Walter R. Barisonek, A.J.S.C., Ret., Yanik spent her first several years at UCPO assigned to various units. Working on many teams, including Appellate, Juvenile, Domestic Violence, Pre-Disposition Conference, and Trial Team, Yanik gained legal experience in departments across the Office; her tenure naturally developing into supervisory roles.
As Supervisor of the Child Abuse Unit and later, Supervisor of the Sex Crimes Unit, Yanik oversaw all investigations of sexual and physical abuse of children under 13, developmentally disabled adults, and sexual crimes involving victims older than 13. Her experience and ability earned her a position on the Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, and her investigations contributed to the federal “Operation Candyman” within the FBI’s Innocent Images Task Force. Yanik prosecuted the case, resulting in convictions against individuals in a child pornography/abuse ring. The experience is a career highlight Yanik is most proud of.
Continuing in a supervisory capacity, Yanik next mentored junior Trial Team members before transitioning to serve as the Supervisor of the Grand Jury Unit, and later as the Deputy Trial Supervisor.
Yanik’s next served as the Supervisor of the Special Offenders Unit. Her role included overseeing the Union County jail diversion and mental health program (and all cases involving a defendant suffering from mental illness), developing training programs for law enforcement officers, serving on the Union County Mental Health Board, and managing forty Assistant Prosecutors. Also in her capacity as Supervisor of the Special Offenders Unit, Yanik advocated for those in need, encouraging the Police Academy to educate recruits on Autism and aiding other County Prosecutor’s Offices in creating specialized Mental Health Units.
Now, in her role as First Assistant, Yanik’s agenda will focus on the development and implementation of training programs for law enforcement officers to better equip them during interactions with persons suffering from mental illness and the developmentally disabled. These individuals are frequently the most vulnerable victims, and an officer’s protocol must adapt to the victim’s potentially susceptible state. Internally, Yanik will continue developing training programs for UCPO staff members to ensure the office’s long-term success.
The positive impact Doreen Yanik has on her colleagues, plaintiffs, County, and department are undeniable. From improving internal policy, to advocating for protections for the developmentally disabled, the wide breadth of Yanik’s contribution to UCPO extends far beyond the Office. Her work has impacted law enforcement industry standard, and benefitted several New Jersey County Prosecutor’s Offices with her innovative takes on mental health and criminal justice reform.