Magazine tells how prosecutors became ‘kings of the courtoom’

“Most prosecutors are hard-working, honest and modestly paid,” The Economist says. “But they have accumulated so much power that abuse is inevitable.” The magazine explains how prosecutors became “the kings of the courtroom,” and how this contributes to wrongful convictions, here.

9 responses to “Magazine tells how prosecutors became ‘kings of the courtoom’

  1. Marty,

    This is a GREAT article.

    However, it states, “Most prosecutors are hard-working, honest and modestly paid.”

    Sorry, but I take issue with the word “most.” Prosecutors have become a fear-worthy, unconstrained force within our society; and they are primarily driven by personal political gain. I find the power they wield to be absolutely frightening.

    You can quote me. 🙂


    • Phil, Totally agree with you. It IS absolutely frightening. Arizona’s AG’s avoiding the issues during the campaign, not mentioning the broken criminal justice system, which is not even on a top priority list. Shameful.

      This is unsustainable by the taxpayers and society. Self-destructing Arizona and America, one wrongful conviction at a time. 10,000 innocent people per year being convicted across America! The mass incarceration of America’s people is unconscionable – the U.S. #1 Jailer in the world.

      Where do the ordinary people (those not in the “system”) go, to find relief?


      COLUMBUS, Ohio — “About 10,000 people in the United States may be wrongfully convicted of serious crimes each year, a new study suggests.
      The results are based on a survey of 188 judges, prosecuting attorneys, public defenders, sheriffs and police chiefs in Ohio and 41 state attorneys general.

      The study also found that the most important factor leading to wrongful conviction is eyewitness misidentification.

      These findings are included in the new book Convicted But Innocent: Wrongful Conviction and Public Policy (Sage Publications, 1996). The book was written by C. Ronald Huff, director of the Criminal Justice Research Center and the School of Public Policy and Management at Ohio State University; Arye Rattner, professor of sociology at the University of Haifa, Israel; and the late Edward Sagarin, who was a professor of sociology at City College and CityUniversity of New York.” continued…

      • “These findings are included in the new book Convicted But Innocent: Wrongful Conviction and Public Policy (Sage Publications, 1996)” and look at where we are in 2014!

  2. Mr. Yant, This is a GREAT article, following on the heels of California Governor Brown’s veto of a bipartisan bill that addressed getting the innocent out of prison and prosecutorial accountability. He cowed to the powerful CA District Attorneys Association. When one of the most powerful governors in the nation buckles under the power of the DA/prosecutors, it confirms who holds the power in justice system over the people. Unbalanced, unequal, and politicized justice is America’s reality – “land of the free” is a myth.

  3. Governor Brown passed a bill that would allow dogs in a coffee shop and keep the innocent in prison by vetoing another bill. A sad day for America’s justice system and the innocent, their families and society.

  4. Arizona prosecutors fighting against the amendment to ER 3.8 – Ethics responsibility for a prosecutor. Read their replies to the Arizona Supreme Court. The states top prosecutors writing there are NO wrongful convictions in Arizona and NO Brady violations! Are they ignorant or lying to the judges?

    R-11-0033 Petition to Amend ER 3.8, Rule 42, Arizona Rules of the Supreme Court > Court Rules Forum > Arizona Judicial Branch

    • p.s. ABA created the model rule in 2008, after the Duke/Nifong prosecutorial misconduct. Arizona Supreme Court passed Rule No. R-11-0033, effective January 2014. Six years later??

  5. Unsustainable. New Study: Prosecutors, Not Police, Have Driven Prison Population Growth
    leave a comment »

    The United States prison population has exploded over the past 40 years. But why? Have police been making more arrests? Have prosecutors been charging more people with crimes? Have judges been issuing longer sentences? Have parole boards become stricter? (All of the above?) Since many accounts of mass incarceration collapse “the criminal justice system” into a single monolith, it can be hard to know exactly what part of the system has driven the growth in the prison population.

    A new empirical study by Fordham law professor John Pfaff aims to provide a more granular explanation of the causes of mass incarceration. Pfaff concludes that only one other relevant number has changed as dramatically as the prison population has: the number of felony case filings per arrest. In other words, police haven’t been arresting more people:

    [B]etween 1982 and 1995, arrests rose by 26% (from 3,261,613 to 4,118,039) while mean [prison] admissions rose by 149% (from 212,415 to 530,642); between 1995 and 2007, arrests fell by 28.6% while admissions rose by another 31.9%. It is thus clear that arrests are not driving the growth in incarceration—and by extension neither are trends in crime levels, since their effect is wholly mediated by these arrest rates.

    Rather, prosecutors have become more likely to charge those arrested with crimes:

    [U]nlike the volume of arrests, that of felony case filings tracks the number of admissions quite closely. In the twenty‐six states that provide reliable felony filing data to the National Center on State Courts, between 1987 and 2006 filings grow by 129% (from 772,042 to 1,767,202) while admissions grow by an almost‐identical 132% (from 205,733 to 476,754). The decision to file charges thus appears to be at the heart of prison growth. “

    • “Pfaff concludes that only one other relevant number has changed as dramatically as the prison population has: the number of FELONY CASE FILINGS PER ARRESTt. In other words, police haven’t been arresting more people:…”

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