Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More utterly ridiculous prosecution

This is just another example of prosecutions run amok. Prosecutors have WAY too much unchecked power. Ugh.


armagh444 said...

Good prosecutors are very aware of that power, and work to ensure that it does not get the best of them.

DBB said...

That may be true, but there is a saying about power and how it corrupts. I think it can't help but affect all of them, the power is so great and the checks on it so non-existent.

armagh444 said...

Realistically, it's probably true that the power granted prosecutors has some impact on all of them, though my experience has led me to believe that the among the unsung majority, the effects are relatively minor and do not impact - overall - how they do their jobs.

More importantly, I think one must acknowledge - if only for the sake of intellectual honesty - that all attorneys are possessed of power far beyond that available to the average layman. This is just the nature of the profession. And, frankly, I don't think prosecutors are any more prone to abusing that power than are other attorneys. (Heck, if you really want to see attorneys behaving badly, watch a particularly hot divorce proceeding.)

DBB said...

I don't know about that - I've seen a lot of attorneys rather less blessed with power than the average layperson when you consider brain power (judging from the quality of their legal briefs that is)... ;)

Prosecutors can, at a whim, decide to charge someone or not, how much to charge them, what plea deal to offer them, they can bribe witnesses with breaks or blackmail or threaten witnesses with jail time. And even if they totally abuse the rights of a defendant, most of the time an appeals court will find such behavior "harmless" and affirm conviction.

Sentencing rules have taken most of the sentence choices out of the hands of judges and given it all to prosecutors, who set sentence by how many charges of which type they bring against a defendant.

They have vastly more power than a regular attorney, and there is basically no check on that power.

Sure, there are plenty of decent enough prosecutors, but they still all jealously guard their power and absent checks, power corrupts. On top of that, there are strong political motives to trample all over defendant rights so they can claim they are "tough on crime" at the next election.

I sure wish it weren't so, but I think we need major reform.

Defense attorneys are poor beggers in the street compared to the power of prosecutors. Many of the avenues that should be open to them, like say an ethics complaint to the Bar (which is usually toothless, but at least it is something) are for all practical matters closed to them because of the huge discretion of the prosecutor and the fact that defense attorneys have lots of OTHER clients to worry about who might then be screwed over by a prosecutor in retaliation for a complaint.

armagh444 said...

You know, every time you write a post about prosecutors and we start discussing the issue, I end up with so many things running through my head that I think one of these days I'm just going to have to write a full post about the whole thing over on my own blog.

DBB said...

Yeah, I know I have a bit of a crusade against the power of the prosecutor - a good book on that is Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor
by Angela J. Davis

I just plain think the system is broken as it is. Another good one is Indefensible: One Lawyer's Journey into the Inferno of American Justice
by David Feige

I'd be quite curious to see your post on the subject. I should say again that I don't think most prosecutors are bad, I think that the system gives prosecutors way too much unchecked power, and that is a problem.