News 03.19.12

Prosecutorial Oversight: Ted Stevens Case Moves Dialog Forward

Today’s

New York Times

includes an editorial on last week’s “scathing” report on prosecutorial misconduct in the corruption trial of the late Senator Ted Stevens. The report, which was issued by a court-appointed investigator, found multiple instances where prosecutors withheld potentially exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys, but concluded that individual attorneys could not be charged because the judge did not explicitly remind them of their obligation to disclose evidence helpful to the defense.

 

The

Times

issues a critique of current Justice Department policy, concluding:


The department should set a national standard by joining state and local governments that have adopted open-file requirements for prosecutors to be far more forthcoming about evidence favoring the defense.

The panel in the first stop of the Prosecutorial Oversight tour, which the Innocence Project is producing in coordination with three other organizations,

endorsed open-file policies

as a critical step towards more accountability in prosecution. Requiring prosecutors to abide by their constitutional obligations to turn over evidence that supports the innocence of defendants (and holding them accountable when they do not) is crucial to preventing wrongful convictions.

 

While it’s disappointing that this misconduct occurred, we’re certainly encouraged that this high profile case has brought the issue of prosecutorial misconduct into the public mind at the same time that we’re conducting the Prosecutorial Oversight tour. We hope that heightened public interest will bring more perspectives to the conversation, and more voices to the table, as we grapple with how to address prosecutorial misconduct after

Connick v. Thompson

.

 

Read the

full editorial

.

 

Find out more about the

Prosecutorial Oversight tour

.

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