I am not an attorney, but in my layman’s, non-legal opinion this is potentially (and I say only potentially) huge.
The US Ninth Circuit has advocated criminal perjury prosecution for a prosecutor who lied to the court. See our previous post about lying federal prosecutors here – in this case, the offending prosecutor got off with just a stern rebuke by the judge, which is sadly typical.
The Ninth Circuit has “recommended” perjury prosecution for a prosecutor who lied about benefits offered to a jailhouse snitch for his testimony. Incentivizing testimony from snitches is nothing new. It happens routinely. But think about this. If a defense attorney offered benefits to a witness for their testimony, it would be bribery, and the attorney could be prosecuted. If a prosecutor offers benefits to a witness (snitch), it’s called “cooperation.” What’s wrong with this picture?!
Now, here’s the “catch” about the recent Ninth Circuit lying prosecutor incident. The case involves a prosecutor who lied while testifying under oath. So, the big question in regard to this is – what happens if a prosecutor lies in court at times when he’s not actually testifying under oath? As I said, I’m not an attorney, but one would think that, logically, lying in any capacity in any court proceeding would be considered perjury, but ….. sadly, “the law is not always logical, but the law is always the law.”
See the full Observer story on the Ninth Circuit action here.