Press Release: Center for Prosecutor Integrity Calls on Prosecutors to Root out Misconduct After AZ Report of Widespread Unethical Practices

WASHINGTON / November  6, 2013 – Following revelations that 22% of death sentence cases in Arizona involve judicial findings of impropriety, the Center forProsecutor Integrity is calling on prosecutors nationwide to take a proactive approach to hold unethical prosecutors accountable and restore public confidence in the criminal justice system.

The finding of widespread prosecutor misbehavior is based on a review of all death sentence convictions in Arizona in the past decade. These sentences are routinely seen by the state Supreme Court. Since 2002, there have been 82 death sentence cases reviewed by the state high court. In 18 of the cases – 22% of the total — the Supreme Court made a finding of impropriety.

Examples of unethical practice include presenting false testimony, resorting to emotional appeals in closing arguments, referring to mitigating evidence as “excuses,” and removing a jacket worn by a victim from a plastic evidence bag for the jury’s “smelling pleasure.”

The cases were assembled in an online database as part of a four-part investigative report by Michael Kiefer of the Arizona Republic newspaper:

The Arizona study is important because previous analyses of prosecutorial misconduct focused on cases that were pre-selected based on defense counsel’s allegation of misconduct or a judicial determination of a wrongful conviction. The Arizona findings likely underestimate the true extent of wrong-doing because the most egregious cases of misconduct triggered a mistrial or led to a last-minute plea deal not carrying a death sentence.

“In the past, some prosecutors have insisted that unethical conduct is so rare that it doesn’t even deserve attention,” notes CPI spokesperson Sheryl Hutter. “But when a high court concludes more than one in five cases involve impropriety, taxpayers should be demanding accountability and lawmakers should be convening hearings.”

The CPI report, An Epidemic of Prosecutor Misconduct, concludes unethical conduct has become widespread throughout the country:

The Center for Prosecutor Integrity is working to preserve the presumption of innocence, assure equal treatment under law, and bring an end to wrongful conviction through the enhancement of prosecutorial ethics.

7 responses to “Press Release: Center for Prosecutor Integrity Calls on Prosecutors to Root out Misconduct After AZ Report of Widespread Unethical Practices

  1. Mr. Locke, Outstanding article. The harsh spotlight is finally shining brightly on Arizona’s injustice system and who drives the creation of felony cases, draconian mandatory minimum sentencing used as a weapon for “easy” convictions — which allows for media and political witch-hunts, rush-to-judgement and wrongful convictions In Arizona. It’s time the lid of Arizona’s Pandora’s Box of horrors is finally ripped open. Voices silenced for decades and defacto-life sentences, behind the prison walls is unacceptable, immoral and unethical.

  2. AZ MCAO Bill Montgomery Opposes Ethics Rule Requiring Prosecutors to Reveal Evidence of Wrongful Convictions

  3. Pingback: 22% Of AZ Death Sentences Have Impropriety |

  4. A Prosecutor Is Punished –

    “Mr. Anderson, who later became a judge, has said he did not consider the judge’s order official because it was not written down. But he was fully aware of his ethical duty to disclose important exculpatory evidence and that a failure to disclose violates due process rights under the Constitution. In April, a judicial investigation found probable cause to believe that Mr. Anderson was in criminal contempt for withholding the documents. On Friday, he pleaded no contest. In addition to receiving the jail sentence, he was disbarred and stripped of his law license.

    This case may sound extreme, but prosecutorial misconduct is far too common, and the remedies for it, if any, usually come long after the harm has been done. Criminal defense lawyers have called for judges to issue a standard written order reminding prosecutors of their ethical duty and to warn them of contempt charges if they do not comply. Prosecutors should welcome this practice to reinforce professional standards and identify the wrongdoers among them.”

  5. Terrific Opinion Editorial By Kansas City Star on Culture of Prosecutorial Misconduct in Missouri | The Open File

  6. In addition to receiving the jail sentence, he was disbarred and stripped of his law license.

  7. This information should receive ongoing support and not stop until the problem is fixed. When I read the police narrative given to grand jury to enact a true bill ( grand jury indictment , and I was at the scene so I know the true facts of the event) the police told lie after lie and made stabbing little remarks to put the potential suspect in bad light , I was disgusted. Mostly at the thought of being accepted by a metro phx area law enforcement agency in 93 , and secondly at the pure blatant lies in the reports. How could this be possible ? I was there for god sake , I saw what happened and heard every word . It was clear to me at that time how this sick system works . Not only were 4th 5th and 6th amendment rights invoked but they were grosely disregarded by the officers who think they are free to do as they please , and write fiction however they see it needs to be written to cover their asses. Then they turn this information in to a C.A. with highlighted power words that presses the alarm to quickly assemble a grand jury and present two pages of lies to a group of people who like myself could imagine a cop needing to lie, the crime should speak for itself. But then when I heard the public defender tell his client as they exited a settlement conference ( that resembled a bloody car deal where the closers went in for the kill) “I WAS ABLE TO USE THE BAD SEARCH TO LEVERAGE A REALLY GOOD DEAL HERE ” I MEAN YOU COULD GET 30 YEARS , SO 3.5 IS PRETTY AWESOME RIGHT?” ARE YOU SERIOUS? did he just say ” he used the bad search to leverage a really good deal? This is the purest form of prosecutorial misconduct . This not only implies that the state knows of the illegal search and seizure, they are continuing to get this poor woman to convict herself by taking a plea, telling her the chances of her winning at trial are almost non existent, if she was smart she would take the plea, UH , NO , HELLO ? They violated her right to speedy trial by over 2 months due to a change in state prosecutors ( that was one continuance , and the assigned counsel filed 3 extensions on his own without the request coming from defendant , the last one he didn’t even inform her he did it. But it was out of the kindness of his heart? yeah , no. They tell defendant , this is it we are terminating this amazing plea agreement on a specific day. You won’t get this opportunity again, then they hold it open for 2 more months , and somehow take time from their busy schedule to offer a second settlement conference, where new people were brought in to try a get her to take the plea. I am doing all I can to help this person and will be filling on her behalf everything i can to stop this madness. If you or someone you know is a licensed attorney in AZ please contact me , help me bring truth to the table and shut down this case where the puppet defender clearly works for the prosecution. Thank you.

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