Sunday, April 21, 2013

Prosecutorial misconduct in the news

Here are some links to recent stories on prosecutorial misconduct:  ProPublica has a two part story on "who polices prosecutors" in which they discuss the fact that, even though there is a lot of publicity about prosecutorial misconduct, there seem to be few prosecutions for it.  So, who polices the proscutors?   Usually nobody.  In the second part, they discuss the specific case of a prosecutor who was disciplined for his misconduct.  He is described as a serial abuser of his authority. His misconduct actually led to disciplinary action by his superiors. He lost his job, and eventually his law license, after an appellate court determined he had lied to a judge about the whereabouts of a key witness.  State appellate courts reversed three convictions based on his wrongdoing.  That story is available here.

ProPublica later published an opinion piece suggesting that a solution to the problem is to compel judges to report prosecutorial misconduct.  (See here).  The problem is that judges already have that obligation, imposed both by the rules of professional conduct and the code of judicial ethics.  The problem is not that the judges don't have the obligation to do something about prosecutorial misconduct, the problem is that they don't do it. 

In a related, and contrasting, story, the Legal Ethics Forum discusses the discipline of several prosecutors in California and asks whether it is "a trend"?  (See here).  Some readers of the Forum seem skeptical.

Thanks to the Leagl Ethics Forum for the links.