Prosecutorial Misconduct

Today’s post focuses on prosecutors and their misconduct (for which they seldom gets held to account).

The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in America. His discretion is tremendous….While the prosecutor at his best is one of the most beneficent forces in our society, when he acts from malice or other base motives, he is one of the worst. – Former U.S. Attorney General Robert Jackson

43% Believe Prosecutorial Misconduct is Widespread, Survey Finds
The Crime Report, Sept. 18, 2013

“About 43 percent of Americans responding to a telephone survey believe that prosecutorial misconduct is widespread, a Maryland-based organization called the Center for Prosecutor Integrity said today. The survey in June of about 1,000 people found that 72 percent of respondents believe new laws are needed to curb prosecutor misconduct and two-thirds believe that the ‘presumption of innocence is becoming lost in our nation’s legal system.’

“The group issued a ‘white paper’ on wrongdoing by prosecutors, citing the conclusion of the National Registry of Exonerations that 43 percent of  wrongful convictions are attributable to official misconduct. The organization cited various studies concluding that ‘sanctions are imposed on only 1-2% of prosecutors who were found to have engaged in misconduct, even when the misbehavior was found to be egregious.’ The group describes itself as ‘a  project of Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working for legal reform to protect victims and the wrongfully accused.'”

An Epidemic of Prosecutor Misconduct
Center for Prosecutor Integrity, Updated December 2013, 16 pages

“The public is awakening to the existence of the problem, as well. According to a 2013 national survey:

  • 42.8% of respondents say prosecutor misconduct is widespread
  • 71.8% believe new laws are needed to curb prosecutor misconduct

“Each year, thousands of Americans are victimized by prosecutors who overcharge, withhold key evidence, and engage in a myriad of other forms of professional misconduct. When these persons later seek redress, they encounter denial, resistance, and delays. More often than not, their efforts to receive even an apology end in futile exasperation.

“Fundamental reform is long over-due, and corrective policies have been delineated. Prosecutors, lawmakers, concerned citizens, and others need to take action to restore the luster to Lady Justice.”

Conviction Integrity Units: Vanguard of Criminal Justice Reform
Center for Prosecutor Integrity, 2014, 14 pages

This incredibly important issue is often ignored by legislators because prosecutors wield an unreasonable amount of power. When things come to light they are often heard saying, “We don’t want our case overturned.” On Maui, Alvin Jardine was freed after spending more than 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. No one has ever been held to account for this injustice. OUTRAGEOUS!

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