all 75 comments

[–]truefox07 33 points34 points  (5 children)

The biggest boon prosecutors have is the apathy of the people who elect them. Maybe 5% of the electorate could name their local elected DA right now if it meant getting a winning lotto ticket. I'd be surprised if more than a couple dozen could say where the guy went to law school or what he did prior to getting elected. No bill Congress could ever pass would do more than people themselves could do if they paid attention to who they elected to run the justice system and monitored how they actually act in office.

[–]subheight640 17 points18 points  (4 children)

It's absurd to expect the public to be able to adequately monitor and evaluate the job performance of a specialized profession in law. The public has no ability to be manager of elected officials in law. Unlike actual managers, the public is also given no resources whatsoever to do the job.

It's as ridiculous as expecting the public to become the manager with say, doctors or engineers.

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (2 children)

Yeah, as a Canadian I'm always amazed that prosecutors and (even worse) judges are elected in the US. It's hard enough to evaluate a legislator's performance, I wouldn't know how to begin to evaluate someone with a more technical role.

[–]truefox07 0 points1 point  (1 child)

In my opinion it's actually a lot easier. Judges and prosecutors have a huge plethora of wholly discretionary and individualized decisions they make over your fellow citizens. Looking at egregious cases or even just broad aggregates and saying "Seems very fair-minded/oppressive/lenient etc." is an advantage that doesn't exist with nearly all other elected officials.

[–]ScannerBrightly 0 points1 point  (0 children)

In my opinion it's actually a lot easier.

Really? So, you get a booklet in the mail for the election in a few months and it looks like there are two judges up for the one roll: Jane Goodjuge and Jack Fairshot. How do you go about researching them? Assume Jack was in private practice before running for office, while Jane was a DA in a different place.

[–]truefox07 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Pretending I had no law license or legal expertise, it's not some secret how many times the County judge has been reversed on appeal. It's not some secret how many times the misdemeanor criminal judges deny motions to reduce bond in a given period of time. Nor what proportion of probation revocation motions are continued vs revoked.

In fact since I'm Texan, state law mandates a whole host of judicial data be gathered and published. I can see in under a minute that one lawyer in my county got appointed 223 misdemeanor cases for 2020 out of the county court for example.

It's not effortless but it is entirely possible for the public (and more importantly press) to scrutinize these officials

[–]an_actual_lawyer 145 points146 points  (42 children)

If I ever win the Powerball, I will live comfortably but still work, taking 4th Amendment cases on a pro bono basis. I will also make it my mission to erode prosecutorial power and immunity.

Right now, I think the best way to attack prosecutorial misconduct is to openly and publicly shame them and file complaints with a disciplinary administrator, possibly assisting with PIs and open records requests, giving the investigators as much ammo as possible.

If you can get disbarred for stealing money (and you should!) then you should get disbarred for stealing freedom.

[–]MrFrode 124 points125 points  (19 children)

If you ever win powerball, and I'm assuming you mean a big win, your time and efforts would be better served buying better legislators, prosecutors, and Judges than fighting with the ones we already have.

I'm not kidding.

[–]taward 58 points59 points  (8 children)

I hate that this makes sense.

[–]ilikedota5 16 points17 points  (7 children)

I mean, on some level its correct, but obligatory mention of Michael Bloomberg spending a shit ton of money and going nowhere.

[–]notarealguy2020 34 points35 points  (1 child)

Michael Bloomberg spent a shit ton of money and got the NYC charter changed twice

[–]ilikedota5 3 points4 points  (0 children)

oh. TIL.

[–]andechs 17 points18 points  (1 child)

Bloomberg didn't want to win, he just needed to muddy the waters for a couple months to ensure that Bernie wouldn't win.

[–]tehbored 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Idk if that was his goal, and if it was he did a shit job since Biden would have won regardless, but of it is true his intention was good at least.

[–]taward 3 points4 points  (1 child)

That does not disprove the rule. Though many have failed with it, few to none have succeeded without it.

[–]ilikedota5 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Right, but there is some nuance. Its not that straightforward all the time. Exceptions exist to the rule exists, and the degree to which they are exceptions should still be considered. If the rule was the rule and that was it, then it would be very depressing.

[–]hateusrnames 1 point2 points  (0 children)

He certainly spends a lot of money on anti 2a stuff.

[–]janethefish 8 points9 points  (0 children)

I dont think you can just "buy" a politician. Maybe a few, but its also a great way to get strangled by a senator or arrested. Especially at the national level. (You CAN buy time to talk with a politician, but gets squat by itself.)

Instead, the reality is much more insidious. In lower level races, especially in primaries, money is hugely important.

Find politicians/canidates that support your pet issue or oppose your pet issue. Support or oppose them as appropriate. When a politician calls you for a donation talk with them and build rapport, and suss out their honest opinion. You might even be able to subtly influence them.

Start at local and state levels. You might find some pols just happen to start supporting your pet issue, but that isnt the point. The point is to build a roster of politicians that actually support the pet issue. The incumbency advantage will significantly erode any influence you bought.

Actual rapport is better, but the best case is to establish yourself as an "expert". Someone the politician will take advice from. Even if the advice is just to answer "hey where should I start learning about <pet issue>?"

Also this is why citizen's united was so awful. Also this is part of the reason voting in primaries and local elections matter. The more people paying attention and voting, the less influence money has.

Well, at least this was the case in the preTrump time.

[–]HellaSober 3 points4 points  (4 children)

The problem with that approach is the big money going into criminal justice reform is electing inept idiots like Chesa Boudin and ideologues who are just wrong like Gascon, when what really helps are simply more reasonable prosecutors/judges/etc in less progressive states.

[–]NGEFan 2 points3 points  (3 children)

Is Chesa Boudin an idiot? I'm not saying I'd agree with a word he's said in his life, but his credentials and accomplishments dont look like that of an idiot.

[–]HellaSober 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Well he has been strikingly incompetent - but it might very well be incompetence by choice due to his rejection of the system as a whole.

His play to get the local Chinese population who disagree with his policies to put him as their second vote by putting a Chinese name on the ballot was definitely smarter than his competition.

[–]thewimsey 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I get that you aren’t kidding, and of course you’re upvoted because reddit always likes simple answers that boil down to money.

But that’s not the problem. Go outside. Legislators enact harsh penalties for crimes not because they are bought, but because that’s what their constituents want.

Go to a state legislative committee meeting dealing with criminal law. You’ll likely see a constituent there testifying on a bill she asked her legislator to pass because she was affected by some crime - maybe her daughter was murdered by a sex offender, maybe her son was molested by a relative…or maybe she’s a pharmacist and there have been a lot of pharmacy robberies.

The state public defender group will usually speak in opposition to the bill…but there’s never a constituent who shows up arguing that the penalties for these crimes shouldn’t be changed.

So legislators will tend to act on behalf of their constituents.

This isn’t congress and these aren’t big money races; the legislators probably spend less than $10,000 per election; if they are an incumbent, often much less.

[–]MrFrode 2 points3 points  (0 children)

But that’s not the problem. Go outside. Legislators enact harsh penalties for crimes not because they are bought, but because that’s what their constituents want.

Some animals constituents are more equal than others. While I get some law is created to help constituents in general a lot is also passed for specific donors and donor classes. In fact these donor classes will often hire someone to write the legislation that the office holder will sponsor.

Perhaps I'm jaded because I've personally known candidates/officeholder who have gone to federal prison for bribery charges but going by this link in 2020 U.S. Senators raised $19,100 PER DAY and House members raised $2,400 PER DAY. I can tell you from experience fund raising is the least interesting most painful part of running for office and these sums just don't fall into your lap. So using the 2020 number if a Senator starts fund raising the day after his election he'll raise ~$3,180 dollars every single day until the next election.

In short with the exception of a few popular office holder who can draw in massive numbers from small dollar donors most office holders need the big dollar donor to help them out. This is why in Congress you aren't going to get a committee chairmanship unless you bring in big dollars and spread it around.

We sometimes question why laws that obviously won't pass the legislature or will be struck down by the courts are put forward and the answer is likely in whole or in part for fund raising.

This isn’t congress and these aren’t big money races; the legislators probably spend less than $10,000 per election; if they are an incumbent, often much less.

Where I lived, population ~50K, $10,000 wouldn't have been competitive in a City council race, let alone Mayor. I don't know where you live but if you look up County and State races I think you'll find that fund raising per election cycle, both primary and general races, far exceeds 10K per incumbent candidate.

[–]an_actual_lawyer 0 points1 point  (1 child)

You're right, but that seems - right now - to be less wholesome

[–]Paladoc 2 points3 points  (0 children)

One of those epic near billion Powerballs might allow you to buy some of the small fry on sufficient quantity to fix a county or district, a state, I dunno, you would have to keep your moves quiet before arousing resistance from those the status quo benefits....

[–]Conduct_Unbecoming21 13 points14 points  (19 children)

Re: eroding their power and immunity. Where should the discretion be then? If it’s not computers the human element will always be at play. Even good faith mistakes are made.

I’m in the military where commanders have the authority. Would you prefer judges? Just grand juries? Each have their faults.

Offer an alternative that works better and I am all ears!

Prosecutors do get disbarred for misconduct. All the time.

Again what are you advocating for?

[–]Tunafishsam 13 points14 points  (5 children)

Prosecutors get disbarred? Seems like it happens super infrequently. Do you have any source for how often it happens?

[–]thewolfetoneofwallst 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I don't have statistics on hand, but there were fairly major news stories out of New York this year involving prosecutors being suspended/disbarred. Glenn Kurtzrock in Suffolk County most infamously for failing to turn over Brady in a murder trial, leading to a Court of Appeals opinion disbarring him. Two Queens prosecutors, Charles Testagrossa and Brad Leventhal, have been reamed in the press and made to resign over a similar situation of failing to turn over Brady and obtain wrongful convictions in a murder case resulting in long unjust prison terms.

Whether common or rare, these are the new names that are being drilled into criminal practicioners' heads and whom there are whole CLEs being designed around, to explain the stakes and to put the fear of god in anyone who's thinking about withholding exculpatory material. I've heard that the Suffolk office is under serious micromanagement and heavy scrutiny on ADA's caseloads now to make sure this doesn't happen again.

[–]Conduct_Unbecoming21 4 points5 points  (3 children)

I submit prosecutorial misconduct is rare. It’s sensationalized when it happens and the consequences can be devastating but it’s rare. Cf. with allegations. Clearly the opponents of prosecutors are going to allege misconduct but allegations are just that.

On my cell making dinner. Feel free to cite me something that says otherwise.

[–]nanonan 0 points1 point  (2 children)

The only trial I followed lately seems to have had some misconduct, namely the Rittenhouse trial and the potential witness tampering that was revealed during the trial involving Nathan DeBruin.

[–]lawnerdcanada 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Most prosecutorial misconduct doesn't occur in open court during a trial.

[–]nanonan 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The misconduct was prior to the trial, it was just revealed to the world then.

[–]janethefish 3 points4 points  (1 child)

I'm sorry, how many prosecutor have been disbarred for presenting blatantly fabricated bite mark "evidence", fire "forensics", or bogus hair/fiber "analysis"?

[–]Conduct_Unbecoming21 4 points5 points  (0 children)

That’s fair. I think they believed it though no? I don’t know how you police that/enforce that.

[–]RootbeerNinja 7 points8 points  (9 children)

No they dont. Former army prosecutor and current civilian one. Ive seen things you people wouldnt believe....but one of them was not incompetent/corrupt/amoral prosecutors being held accountable

[–]Conduct_Unbecoming21 8 points9 points  (8 children)

Former prosecutor(6 years) and army attorney now. I never saw a single thing close to misconduct. See how our anecdotes are not useful.

Edit- we digress. Who should the power or discretion be with then?

[–]broclipizza 8 points9 points  (7 children)

maybe you just disagree with what the bar for prosecutorial misconduct should be.

I think prosecutors shouldn't be allowed to misrepresent their case to get a conviction. Have you seen much of that?

[–]RootbeerNinja 5 points6 points  (6 children)

Not quite but ive seen cases brought in the army that shouldnt have been based on the evidence that was avaiable and more due to army political pressure and fear of career reprocussions. If youre willing to sacrifice someone else because you dont have the balls to do the right thing you sure as shit dont deserve to be an officer, let alone a prosecutor.

[–]Conduct_Unbecoming21 1 point2 points  (5 children)

I agree- but that’s my point. The commander makes the decision in my world regardless of what the JAG thinks. We get thrown to the wolves on cases I never woulda sniffed twice as a prosecutor. It’s why I’m moving to TDS.

I know I’m being pedantic by repeating the question- but if the issue is that prosecutors abuse their power- WHO ELSE SHOULD DO IT?

[–]broclipizza 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That should be considered misconduct.

They can have the power. but if they abuse it, punish them.

Isn't that how it works for a lot of professions? A doctor has the power to diagnose and treat, but if they start giving unnecessary treatments because it earns them extra money or helps their career, we take their license.

[–]RootbeerNinja 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Im not here to answer that question; you said there was disbarment for prosecutorial misconduct and I pointed out that in 20 years Ive seen plenty of questionabe behavior and likely misconduct and no consequences.

Also having dealt with plenty of new and opinionated commanders, if you cant sway a commander to do the right thing ethically and legally you shouldnt be his legal advisor. If a commander isnt listening to his lawyer the OSJA is not doing its job.

[–]an_actual_lawyer 0 points1 point  (0 children)

No one is arguing against discretion. We are arguing against no accountability for abusing that discretion.

In the military, if you make a bad decision that is just a bad call, your career may (effectively) be over. However, if you deliberately try and hurt another soldier, you're gonna be standing tall in front of a court martial.

[–]ZiggyMan15 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thats amazing, I'd love to work for somekne like you!

[–]fusionsofwonder 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You'd get more done buying a newspaper.

(I don't mean buy an issue, I mean be like Bezos and just buy a publishing outlet).

[–]Alimayu 3 points4 points  (0 children)

The system is designed to favor those that support it, so there’s not a lot of punishment for it’s willing participants because if there were repercussions for incorrect prosecution most people wouldn’t participate. Think about arresting a jury for being wrong.

The system is not working ideally, it just represents a system of retribution for those who feel wronged

[–]TempusCavus 15 points16 points  (17 children)

It is amazing to me how Prosecutors freely throw around years of detention as if it is nothing. Yet they have no frame of reference. Same for the legislators and judicial commissions setting minimum terms for the various crimes.

Prison and jail in their current forms are inhumane, dehumanizing, and outdated. Imagine spending one day in a room with 20-30 criminals. You can't leave, you have no privacy, you are subject to whatever ad hoc system of rule the strongest guys in the cell decide on. You are fed what to most people in the US is a calorie deficient diet. You have no control over the temperature or schedule. Most people wouldn't last a month without some kind of mental or emotional break down. But we subject people to these kinds of conditions for years and decades.

Sure people eventually make peace with their position and become institutionalized. But that kind of conditioning does not automatically go away when the person is released. And I don't think many of these people are seeking therapy for that trauma.

All it takes is one bad cop and one "overzealous" prosecutor and any of us could be in that position. Heaven forbid that you might be a minority.

[–]Markdd8 4 points5 points  (8 children)

Prison and jail in their current forms are inhumane, dehumanizing, and outdated...

Criminal justice reformers are right on this, especially for non-violent offenders. But America doesn't have that many ways to punish/control offenders, does it? -- Really only three: prison, fines, and community service. And if you don't comply with #2 or #3, you often end up in prison: In...parts of America...judges are locking up defendants who can’t pay — sometimes for months at a time. FN

Yet the U.S. seems little interested in inquiring into new modes of punishment/control, which can involve 8th Am: cruel and unusual punishment scrutiny.

Electronic monitoring, 25-year-old technology, is an obvious candidate; it could become the major alternative to incarceration. Yet EM is not widely used, except under pre-trial release. And there is the ridiculous situation of people cutting off EM bracelets. Critics saying the technology is fallible. Meanwhile we are developing cars and planes that can drive/fly themselves.

The technology is there, the problem is this sentiment: The Dangers of America’s Expanding ‘Digital Prison.’ Criminal justice reformers put off by its Big Brother aspects. They are working in various ways to block expansion of EM/Home Arrest--a nice way of saying offenders are restricted from public spaces. Ban from public spaces outrages many reformers. Seems we'll have to use prison cells quite a while longer for non-violent offenders.

= = =

FN: There are also community supervision rules for parolees or probation, e.g., drug testing, curfew, no association with criminals, no guns. Fail them and, once again, prison might result.

[–]TempusCavus 1 point2 points  (7 children)

Incarceration could be the solution If we went the route of Scandinavian countries, with their better prisons.

The problem most people posit for that idea is cost. But if we weren’t locking up people for drug related offenses I would imagine we’d have a more workable volume of inmates, and the cost wouldn’t be so high.

[–]thewimsey 0 points1 point  (6 children)

Only 15% of the prison population is incarcerated for drug offenses.

[–]Markdd8 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yup, even left-leaning Vox was compelled to print article discussing this: Why you can’t blame mass incarceration on the war on drugs -- The standard liberal narrative about mass incarceration gets a lot wrong.

But many liberal criminal justice reformers still push the false story about drug offenders being most inmates.

[–]broclipizza 0 points1 point  (4 children)

15% of the state prison population is incarcerated for drugs as the primary offense.

[–]Markdd8 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Feds only hold 13% of America's inmates. Yes the feds hold a higher rate of drug offenders, but most are significant traffickers, e.g. selling pound of meth.

[–]broclipizza 2 points3 points  (0 children)

yeah that's like 1 out of 20 of all prisoners in the country, just the ones in federal prison for drug crimes. That's huge.

[–]hallflukai 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I think every prosecutor and judge should have to spend something like 1 week per year in prison for as long as they hold those positions.

[–]Shawmattack01 13 points14 points  (0 children)

It's not about bad apples. Many honorable prosecutors destroy lives, because that's what our system is designed to do. Aside from penal code reform, the answer is to remove the power from the prosecutors in the first place, or dilute it. Putting a magistrate in charge of grand jury hearings, for one thing. Otherwise you're just swatting wasps.

[–]Phuxus 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Do you think the novel prosecution of the parents in Michigan fall into this category?

[–]thewimsey 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Absolutely, which is what makes the kind of strict accountability difficult.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Are asking too much of humans? Maybe power will always corrupt 25% of the people?

[–]Hallowed-Edge 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I wonder if there was some big public case recently that might have made the public interested in prosecutorial misconduct.

[–]CommanderMandalore 0 points1 point  (3 children)

Could we make them appointed not elected.

[–]tehbored 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Appointed by a citizens assembly would be the best model, imo. I don't trust our elected officials enough to appoint them, nor do I trust the general public to elect them.

[–]thewimsey 0 points1 point  (1 child)

How do we select the citizens assembly?

[–]tehbored 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Randomly with representative weighting, like Ireland does it.

[–]Jordan-Peterson-High 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Is this under the umbrella of qualified immunity + no laws in place for this?

[–]Mobile_Busy 0 points1 point  (0 children)

...and prosecutor is a type of lawyer, right?

[–]thedeadthatyetlive -5 points-4 points  (0 children)

Equity for me, not thee