Judges in California are “casting a blind eye to prosecutors who place their thumbs on the scale of justice,” according to a report released yesterday by the Veritas Initiative, a new investigative arm at the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University Law School.
The report, “Preventable Error: A Report on Prosecutorial Misconduct in California 1997–2009,” examined 707 cases in which courts had found prosecutorial misconduct in the 11 year period. Of all of those cases, only six prosecutors were disciplined.
Maurice Possley, an award-winning journalist who worked on the study by the Northern California Innocence Project, told the Los Angeles Times, “Prosecutors aren’t held accountable. Absent that, why should they change their habits?” The misconduct covered in the report ranged from failing to turn over evidence to presenting false evidence in court. As a response to their research, the Northern California Innocence Project is calling for legal reforms requiring courts to report all findings of misconduct to the state bar, which they currently are not required to do. When a court decides the misconduct was harmless, those cases often go unreported.
Read last month’s
USA TODAY story
on prosecutorial misconduct.
government misconduct and wrongful conviction
Read the Innocence Project’s report on prosecutorial misconduct and wrongful conviction.