Prosecutorial misconduct is a reality. So is the lack of any meaningful legal recourse for its victims. Over at The Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson uses the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri to draw attention to this pressing and increasingly well-documented problem.
Michaelson notes that among the "most important" impediments to holding prosecutors accountable for abuses of their authority is the fact that "prosecutors are granted immunity for most kinds of misconduct."
While federal law authorizes civil suits against government officers who violate constitutional and statutory rights, the Supreme Court has insulated prosecutors against liability by holding that they are entitled to absolute immunity from civil damages for actions taken as advocates. Prosecutors may use false evidence, suppress exculpatory evidence, and elicit misleading testimony in probable cause hearings, without fear that they will be held personally liable, even if they intentionally and maliciously violate the rights of innocent people.