Bar association investigates prosecutorial misconduct

October 18, 2010

The California State Bar Association is reviewing the records of 130 prosecutors statewide accused of misconduct, and will consider disciplinary action. [Mercury News]

The report by Northern California Innocence Project at the Santa Clara University School of Law found that the majority of California prosecutors use fair methods to prosecute those they believe are guilty.

However, the report noted that over a 13-year period 600 prosecutors have committed misconduct according to rulings by state and federal appellate judges. They range from small technical mistakes to unfair and deceptive tactics to win cases, such as hiding evidence. Sixty-seven of the 600 prosecutors committed misconduct more than once,

The report, which analyzed about 4,000 appellate court rulings from 1997 through 2009, acknowledges that only 130 of the 600 prosecutors were deemed by the appellate courts to have committed “harmful error” — that is, to have done something that altered the fundamental fairness of the trial, prompting the court to set aside convictions or sentences, declare mistrials or bar evidence.

Researchers also found courts routinely fail to report prosecutorial misconduct to the State Bar, as they are required to do in harmful error cases. Prosecutors also often deny that it occurred and the State Bar almost never takes action — at least not publicly.

“This report takes a dynamic new approach to prosecutorial misconduct by naming names,” said Gerald Uelmen, a professor at Santa Clara University’s law school. “For years and years, this has been swept under the rug.”

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My question would be when is Chief Linden, SLOPD, going to seriously look into the misconduct of Captain Parkinson when he testified in a Monterey County court, resulting in a $1.4 million pay day for his family? Come on Chief Linden, do the right thing — Lead by Example

I am hoping that whoever decided to prosecute Matt Hart gets decimated financially and thrown in jail for several decades. Here is Mr. Hart’s story:

Doubtful this is anything but waste of taxpayers money. Would be good to teach those promoting the law to realize they are not above it, eh?

What taxpayer money is involved?

This is fantastic news, if these investigations actually go anywhere. I have several friends who have been following various prosecutors in this and other states for some time now, and the misconduct they have documented is often extreme and routine. Unfortunately in most of those cases, the misconduct has been facilitated by the judiciary, so for this to have an impact, it’s going to need to expand to that group as well.