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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Bringing some accountably to the prosecutors office....

Interesting read from Reason magazine. I have no issue with the concept of this, but I would like to see the standard to prove a prosecutor “intentionally” withheld evidence in a case. That being said, in Texas a few years ago we had a nightmare that put a shake into the faith of capital punishment supporters like me.

Michael Morton was a businessman, a man of means, a pillar of the community and a white male, and he got railroaded by the then district attorney. Mr. Morton lost a quarter century of this life. The DA who railroaded him. Ken Anderson, served 10 days in jail, resigned from the bench and lost his law license. Anderson got off easy.

I belive Texas also passed a law compensating people wrongfully convicted of a crime the sum of one-hundred thousand a year in compensation. I stand to be corrected on the amount, but I'm glad this possibility has been accounted for. Justice is not fully blind, and the sword she holds should not be swung in anger, but even with the best of intentions mistakes can me made. Mr. Morton was not a mistake.

From the article:
California Bill Would Make It a Felony for Prosecutors to Withhold Evidence

Responding to several highly publicized district attorney scandals that have tainted numerous murder cases, a California state legislator has introduced bill that would make it a felony crime for prosecutors to intentionally withhold or falsify evidence.

Democratic California Assemblywoman Patty Lopez introduced the bill, which would raise prosecutorial misconduct from a misdemeanor to a felony imprisonable by up to 16 months to three years. The bill moved through committee to the full state senate last week.

The justice system in Orange County, California has been under intense public scrutiny since 2014, when a public defender in the capital murder case of Scott Dekraai revealed that the district attorney's office and sheriff's department had been operating a secret jailhouse informant program for years, and hiding that fact from judges and defense attorneys.

Supporters of the legislation say the problems in Orange County are emblematic of problems in jurisdictions across the state and highlight the need for reform. The Orange County District Attorney's Office (OCDA) has consistently denied any intentional wrongdoing and supports the bill as well, but a local attorney union says it will add costly and timely litigation to overburdened courts…

…the findings of a 2010 study on prosecutorial misconduct in California by the Santa Clara University School of Law and Northern California Innocence Project, which said it was a "critical" problem.

"Courts fail to report prosecutorial misconduct (despite having a statutory obligation to do so), prosecutors deny that it occurred, and the California State Bar almost never disciplines it," the report said.

In California's Kern County, for example, deputy district attorney Robert Murray Alan confessed in 2015 to falsifying a transcript to add a defendant's confession to sex with a minor. A state bar judge recommended a one-month suspension of Alan's law license.

Former Kern County District Attorney Ed Jagers was never fined or disciplined at all for putting 25 men in prison through the 1980s and '90s on felony child sex abuse charges that were later overturned. Jagers' misconduct ultimately cost Kern County $9 million in wrongful conviction settlements…

The full article is well worth a few minutes of your time.

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