An article in USA TODAY examined hundreds of cases of serious prosecutorial misconduct and concluded that “prosecutors have little reason to fear losing their jobs, even if they violate laws or constitutional safeguards designed to ensure the justice system is fair.” The article examined over 200 cases of federal prosecutorial misconduct since 1997 and found that prosecutors are unlikely to be fired, or face any serious sanctions, even if a court determines that misconduct occurred. USA TODAY concluded that the Justice Department “often classifies as mistakes violations that result in overturned convictions” and “consistently conceals its own investigations of misconduct from the public . . .mak[ing] it almost impossible to assess the full extent and impact of misconduct by prosecutors or the effectiveness of the department’s attempts to deter it.” New York Innocence Project Co-founder Barry Scheck discussed prosecutorial misconduct last night on CNN’s “AC360.” (follow link, click on “justice” and then “prosecutorial misconduct.”)
Prosecutorial misconduct is one of the most distressing causes of wrongful convictions because it is committed by educated, informed lawyers who take an oath to do justice.