Thursday, April 12, 2007


There is an excellent article on prosecutors and their power and how it can be abused, and how this is highlighted by the US Attorney firing scandal and what happend with the Duke non-rape case.

Some good quotes:

Federal prosecutors, like state district attorneys, have tremendous power and almost limitless discretion to launch investigations, to subpoena, to file charges, to question witnesses, and to drop charges when the facts don't bear them out. And if the Duke case reminds us of anything, it's that the innocent targets of such investigations and indictments have only one power: to wait it all out and hope for the best.

* * *

both stories ought to remind us that "prosecutorial independence" isn't just some meaningless ethical jargon or a gauzy law-school ideal. Former Attorney General and Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson gave a speech in 1940 in which he warned that "[t]he prosecutor has more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in America. His discretion is tremendous. He can have citizens investigated and, if he is that kind of person, he can have this done to the tune of public statements and veiled or unveiled intimations." Jackson added that "the citizen's safety lies in the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes. ..."


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