Judge says prosecutors should follow the law. Prosecutors revolt.
Judge Kozinski also rebuked, along with 4 other Federal Judges Seattle’s King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg on another matter.
By Radley Balko March 7, 2014
I’ve addressed the problem of prosecutorial misconduct here a few times before — both its prevalence, and the fact that misbehaving prosecutors are rarely sanctioned or disciplined. Recently (or perhaps the better word is finally), some judges have begun to speak out about the problem including, most notably, Alex Kozinski, the influential judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
Late last year, South Carolina State Supreme Court Justice Donald Beatty joined Kozinski. At a state solicitors’ convention in Myrtle Beach, Beatty cautioned that prosecutors in the state have been “getting away with too much for too long.” He added, “The court will no longer overlook unethical conduct, such as witness tampering, selective and retaliatory prosecutions, perjury and suppression of evidence. You better follow the rules or we are coming after you and will make an example. The pendulum has been swinging in the wrong direction for too long and now it’s going in the other direction. Your bar licenses will be in jeopardy. We will take your license.”
You’d think that there’s little here with which a conscientious prosecutor could quarrel. At most, a prosecutor might argue that Beatty exaggerated the extent of misconduct in South Carolina. (I don’t know if that’s true, only that that’s a conceivable response.) But that prosecutors shouldn’t suborn perjury, shouldn’t retaliate against political opponents, shouldn’t suppress evidence, and that those who do should be disciplined — these don’t seem like controversial things to say. If most prosecutors are following the rules, you’d think they’d have little to fear, and in fact would want their rogue colleagues identified and sanctioned.
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