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mdh
03-21-2018, 06:49 AM
https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/prosecutors-shouldnt-be-hiding-evidence-from-defendants/275754/

Heres a man who says that if a prosecutor intentionally withholds exculpatory evidence in a death penalty case, he should be charged with attempted murder. Do you agree? What would be the affect of such a law.

Ian McColgin
03-21-2018, 07:31 AM
More in keeping with what other constitutional protections offer would be immediate reversal of any guilty finding, damages to the defendant for unlawful incarceration, and clear publication that it was the prosecutor's decision to act in a way that freed a person who might in fact be guilty but now cannot even be charged for that crime.

The surest penalty for a prosecutor is losing a case "on a technicality" that was entirely the prosecutor's discretion.

Tom Wilkinson
03-21-2018, 07:38 AM
https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/prosecutors-shouldnt-be-hiding-evidence-from-defendants/275754/

Here’s a man who says that if a prosecutor intentionally withholds exculpatory evidence in a death penalty case, he should be charged with attempted murder. Do you agree? What would be the affect of such a law.

If a prosecutor knowingly withheld exculpatory evidence and the defendant was found guilty due to that fact I would have no problem with an attempted murder charge for the prosecutor. It should under no circumstance be a win at all costs system.

bailfaster
03-21-2018, 07:38 AM
Losing a case is not a penalty. A prosecutor's job is to represent the people in serving justice. The law states that a prosecutor must make all evidence available to the defense for refutation. Intentional circumvention of law that would lead to the potential death of a defendant should be criminal.

Ian McColgin
03-21-2018, 09:21 AM
There's also exculpatory evidence withheld on non-death cases and in states like mine that have no death penalty.

The issue of withholding exculpatory evidence has some legal analogies to the case my brother won before the US Supreme Court. The FBI held the guy about three times the time limit that they had to bring him before a federal magistrate. You don't need torture to break a person down to the point of confession. Just isolation, guile, and persistance. There were no exigent circumstances since the magistrate was thirty feet down the hall. Eventually they got a confession, found him guilty in federal court, and put him in prison. There was no physical evidence and no witness who could ID anyone. It was all the confession. My brother carried the appeal and won. My brother was always too polite to ask his guy, "Did you do it?" The only issue the court cared about was whether the unlawful manner of obtaining the confession voided the guilty finding.

In this case the FBI and the Federal Prosecutor felt the sting of releasing a guy they thought guilty.

If you personally know any prosecutors, you'll know that the motto "better ten free criminals than one jailed innocent" is something they feel as the most onerous punishment.

One could argue that freeing the guilty punishes society and that is true. Society, represented by the justice system most certainly including the courts, prosecutors, and police, is responsible when the innocent are jailed and when the guilty are freed "on a technicality". But while some police and prosecutors will rant angrily and blame others if something they did causes a person to "get off", that is the gravest penalty the forces of law and order can face. They feel it.

mdh
03-21-2018, 01:25 PM
Ian, of course there is, but until a few years ago, it wasn’t illegal: it was subject to disciplinary action by the Bar, and remains that way, in some states. California’s law is the strictest, as far as i can find, and it allows for a three year sentence. Nifong, of the Duke rape case, lost his law license. The Ted Stevens case changed the balance of power in the Senate. While you may feel that the frustration a prosecutor feels by having a conviction overturned is punishment enough, i believe the majority would say that the punishment should more meet the crime. Even though it took until 1963 for the Supreme Court to say it was a violation of due process, it wasn’t a law until 2012, or so, in some states. Though it can be prosecuted under obstruction of justice, or a few other laws which carry light sentences, it’s somewhat rare. It seems to me that strong enforcement, and harsh sentencing for such acts, would better benefit the poorer defendants who are relying on court appointed attorneys for their defense.

peb
03-21-2018, 01:34 PM
I don't know the precise legal definition or legal range of what is considered exculpatory evidence. But if it such that it would actually prove a man's innocence and it is withheld intentionally and knowingly, then a harsh criminal penalty should be applied. If it is such that it would provide a reasonable doubt to the accused guilt, then perhaps an obstruction of justice charge would be appropriate.

I have said it before, the biggest problem with our entire criminal justice system is the amount of power prosecutors hold. If one abuses that power, one should be harshly dealt with.



One could argue that freeing the guilty punishes society and that is true. Society, represented by the justice system most certainly including the courts, prosecutors, and police, is responsible when the innocent are jailed and when the guilty are freed "on a technicality". But while some police and prosecutors will rant angrily and blame others if something they did causes a person to "get off", that is the gravest penalty the forces of law and order can face. They feel it.

I suspect they do feel it. As for the "punishing society", that is our penalty for having an unjust (at times) criminal justice system. Its inevitable, no system is perfect, but ours could be improved, IMO. And I think harsh prosecutor misconduct penalties would be a major step in the right direction.