Friday, February 6, 2015

Prosecutors shouldn't have immunity from their unethical – or unlawful – acts

...Civil liability represents the best hope for taking prosecutors to task, since they are rarely subject to disciplinary action for violating their ethical obligations by state bar authorities. A 2011 Yale Law Journal survey confirmed that professional discipline is rarely meted out in even egregious cases prosecutorial misconduct: the article reviewed an analysis by the Northern California Innocence Project, which identified 707 cases between 1997 and 2009 in which courts found prosecutorial misconduct, yet a review of state disciplinary proceedings unearthed only 6 cases involving such misconduct. A study by the Center for Public Integrity, also described in by the Yale Law Journal, made similar findings in an analysis of appellate court cases.

Some, including Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roberts, believe that the deconstruction of absolute immunity would have a “chilling effect” on prosecutors; that fear is misplaced. The law does not give other law enforcement officers, like the police, absolute immunity. Rather, they may claim what’s called “qualified immunity” – immunity which applies only when they have not violated a citizen’s “clearly-established” constitutional or statutory rights. Prosecutors could similarly receive such limited immunity, including protection from lawsuits for acts committed in good faith.


No comments: