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"Prosecutorial Misconduct Is Rarely Punished, Says New Study"



The Veritas Initiative report studied 707 cases from 1997 to 2009 where California courts explicitly found prosecutorial misconduct, and only six of the prosecutors faced State Bar discipline. [National Law Journal]

Of course, it's important to recognize that a court finding of prosecutorial misconduct does not always equate to actual prosecutorial misconduct (just as a court finding of discovery abuse does not always mean discovery abuse occurred), but it's also true that many cases of prosecutorial misconduct are never discussed by courts. The lack of so much as a reprimand in many cases is appalling, especially given the higher ethical obligations of prosecutors. If the State Bar of California spent less time on lobbying and "diversity" and more time on its core functions, maybe there would be more discipline.

That said, the reports proposal to abolish absolute immunity for prosecutors is foolish, given the low bar for surviving demurrer in California. It's too easy to allege that an action was "intentional" or "with malice," and the cost of litigation would mean that good-faith prosecutors that only have qualified immunity would face expensive meritless lawsuits.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.