By: Robert (Bob) Bianchi, Esq.:
California has just passed an aggressive law aimed at curtailing “Prosecutorial Misconduct.” The law places requirements for mandatory reporting of prosecutors who withhold evidence in a criminal case. It also allows judges to disqualify the prosecutor’s office from handling a matter once it is determined that such a violation occurs.
In truth, there have been ethics rules and case law about this very thing for a very long time. Having served as a New Jersey Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor- – and later as the head Morris County Prosecutor – – it is regrettable that in this day and age that there are prosecutors who purposely commit such violations – – usually with little punishment when it is caught.
We all want tough prosecutors to protect society. I was one. But, that does not mean that a prosecutor is entitled to deny defendants of their right to a fair trial and process. Unfortunately, this distinction is blurred by some, or simply not of great concern to many, as prosecutors are rarely punished in a way that causes them to be more thoughtful in this regard.
It is no wonder that with all of the politics surrounding prosecutions lately that a law like this became needed. This law is not anti-prosecutor. Rather, it protects those prosecutors who are aggressive but play by the rules, from those prosecutors who are unworthy of the profession and sully the reputation of the all of the good that most prosecutors do to achieve justice.
And to be sure, the law is a good first step to ensure that defendants are treated fairly. Now that I am again handling New Jersey Criminal Defense cases, there is nothing more frustrating than to see the rights of a client affected by some rogue prosecutors that flout the rules, and as equally disturbing, those that don’t even know the rules.
What are your thoughts? Read the article on Huffington Post.
© 2015 Robert (Bob) Bianchi, Esq.