Jun 26, 2015

Prosecutorial Reform—70,000 Prosecutors Can Aspire to Be 70,000 Robert Jacksons

University of Wisconsin-Madison Innocence Project
Above are the proven-innocent-after-conviction; wrongful
convictions rarely draw a rush to find out what's wrong. Ask
the innocent Penny Brummer who remains incarcerated.
Ms. Brummer's real offense—Brummer is a lesbian
and victim of the Dane County Sheriff's Department
and a case study in Confirmation Bias, and was
convicted in 1994 on circumstantial evidence only.
Phil Locke calculates that in the United States there are some 70,000 prosecutors. (Wrongful Convictions)

Defense attorneys, civil libertarians and other advocates for those Americans unfortunate enough to enter into the American criminal justice system as defendants witness the dedication of prosecutors to make defendants and those forced into convictions—risk your life and go broke or plead (charge stacking)—spend as much time incarcerated as possible during and after adjudication, with the assistance of the odious Court Services systems around the country.

Some jurisdictions are much better than others, especially now that mass incarceration (Bravin, Wall Street Journal) and police and prosecutorial misconduct are coming to the fore thanks to the work of jurists and reformists such as Mark Godsey, Sidney Powell, Jeff Scott Olson, the Center for Constitutional Rights) and Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) and Richard Posner (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit) and the various Innocence Projects around the country, for example.

The denial of liberty is a foundation of the land of the free, and for reasons surpassing understanding the objective of the many prosecutors is to incarcerate, period.

Writes Locke, Science and Technology Advisor for the Ohio Innocence Project and Duke Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic, "I have been doing innocence work for only 7 years, but just in that time, I have seen case after case in which prosecutors withhold evidence, badger or threaten witnesses, make deals with snitches, stack charges to coerce a plea deal, refuse to allow DNA testing, and refuse to allow post-conviction access to evidence. And once the litigation has moved into post-conviction, prosecutors will, without exception, vigorously defend every conviction, no matter how wrongful they might be. I’ve worked 63 cases in eight different states and two foreign countries, and, on top of that, have knowledge of probably 100 other cases; and I find it’s the same all over. Have I seen some exceptions to this 'rule?' Of course, but they’re not common. My belief is that this characterizes the preponderance of prosecutorial behaviors. I can only report what I observe, and clearly there is cause for change."

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne running for Wisconsin Attorney General last year wrote, "I have worked with lawyers from the Innocence Project, and will do so in the future. ... The ultimate goal of the system is not simply to secure convictions, it is to do justice." (Mal Contends)

In the Democratic Primary election Wisconsin voters chose Ozanne's opponent, Susan Happ, who rode a Harley in a frequently run campaign TV spot featuring Happ looking like an extra for Sons of Anarchy (Sutter, FX Productions, Art Linson Productions and Fox 21), despite Happ's sterling CV.

Prosecutors dedicated to truth don't carry much electoral appeal.

Locke has several suggestions, one of the most compelling is: "Let’s have all trial counsel, prosecutors and defense attorneys, sworn in at the beginning of each trial," sworn in to tell the truth.

Here's another, from Mal:

Each prosecutor before assuming office must read the disquisitions on prosecutorial discretion of Robert Jackson.

If at the end of trial the prosecutor determines the quantum of evidence is circumstantial or suffers defects that a reasonable jurist would determine is less the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard, then she must drop all charges.

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