Is the tide turning - Are prosecutors finally being held accountable?

Several years ago if you would have predicted a prosecutor would be sanctioned by the Bar for witholding evidence most criminal defense lawyers would have asked what you were smoking. For years the Bar in most states has been on the sidelines in policing prosecutors. Where allegations were made, they were either dismissed, or explained as an honest mistake.

The recent fiasco with John Bradley and Ken Anderson in Williamson may be the blow that finally opens the floodgates. Not only our courts and bar associations more prone to acknowledging misconduct by prosecutors, they also are now taking action. The case against former federal prosecutor is one example. He was accused of witholding evidence in a case he prosecuted over ten years ago. The evidence was his notes he took when interviewing a police detective; the victim had originally told the detective that he didn't know who shot him.

Kline claimed the failure to disclose the evidence was inadvertent, and that it wasn't all that important. The initial committee that reviewed the case recommended a public censure. However, the professional responsibilty board rejected that recommendation, and imposed a 30 day suspension. They cited the "gravity of the misconduct" and one of the board members stated that prosecutors must be held accountable given the pivotal role they play in the justice system.

I thnk its safe to say that the tide is turning. Prosecutors are no longer getting a free pass. Both disciplinary panels and the courts are starting to hold them to the high standards that should have always been expected of them. No doubt their opinions have been changed by the cases which show the impact of such impact; individuals convicted and locked up for years for crimes they did not commit.

What remains to be seen is whether this trend will effect how the prosecutors in the trenches handle the cases they are trying now.

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