A study conducted from 2002 to 2013 by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) has documented more than 650 violations of professional rules, laws, or ethical standards by Justice Department prosecutors. In over 400 of those cases, the OPR categorized the violations as reckless or intentional misconduct.
Some of the most disturbing findings were the 48 cases in which federal prosecutors were alleged to have misled the court, almost half of which were deemed to have been intentional. There were also 29 allegations that prosecutors failed to provide exculpatory evidence to criminal defendants, including at least one instance that was intentional.
Though it appears that the Justice Department’s review of prosecutorial misconduct is a step in the right direction, the good news is undercut by the fact that the Justice Department does not disclose the names of prosecutors that have engaged in misconduct, nor the names of the defendants whose cases were affected. As a result, prosecutors who have engaged in misconduct will not face public scrutiny and accountability as they should.
Earlier this year, the New York Times ran an article on prosecutorial misconduct in which it cited a study by the Center for Prosecutor Integrity. That study, published last year, discovered that over the past 50 years, public sanctions were imposed on prosecutors for misconduct in less than 2% of cases in which misconduct was found. Ultimately, transparency and accountability are two things our justice system needs in order to function, and they should go a long way in eliminating the type of rampant prosecutorial misconduct we’re now seeing.
Additionally, it is important to remember that it is criminal defense attorneys like myself, as well as our clients, that are going to be exposed to prosecutorial misconduct most frequently, and we are the ones that are responsible to be outspoken on this issue to preserve the integrity of the criminal justice system.
[See full story over at pogo.org: http://www.pogo.org/our-work/reports/2014/hundreds-of-justice-attorneys-violated-standards.html]