Prosecutorial misconduct is rampant in the criminal justice system. From intimidating witnesses, to hiding exculpatory information, to anonymously blogging to influence jurors, to spying on criminal defense attorneys, to knowingly putting on false testimony, all the way to setting up innocent men. It’s seriously depressing.
Just as depressing as the widespread misconduct itself is the fact that nothing is being done about it. Prosecutors are immune from being sued, convictions affected by misconduct routinely get affirmed because courts find that the misconduct was not “prejudicial,” and nothing ultimately happens to the wrongdoers. They generally keep their jobs, without even a smack on the hand.
Although there’s an office assigned to look into prosecutorial misconduct, called the Office of Professional Responsibility (“OPR”), that office almost never takes any action against bad prosecutors and keeps its findings private. OPR is such a joke that it often rejects even the rare judicial finding of prosecutorial misconduct. One study showed that during a three year period, there were 60 cases of serious judicial criticisms or findings of misconduct and yet OPR found no wrongdoing by any of these prosecutors.
Instead of taking action against bad prosecutors, it was just publicly announced that OPR will be investigating Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta for his handling of the Jeffrey Epstein case ten years ago when he was the U.S. Attorney in South Florida. For those of us who care about real prosecutorial misconduct, this news is truly absurd.
Monday, February 11, 2019
“OPR should investigate real prosecutorial misconduct, not Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta”
That’s the title of my latest piece in The Hill. Below is the introduction, but please click here to read the whole thing: