CJUS 330 Lecture Notes Prosecutors&Attorneys, Week 3.doc - CJUS 330 LECTURE NOTES LEGAL ACTORS PROSECUTORS ATTORNEYS AND DEFENSE And you experts in

CJUS 330 Lecture Notes Prosecutors&Attorneys, Week 3.doc -...

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CJUS 330 L ECTURE N OTES : L EGAL A CTORS - P ROSECUTORS AND D EFENSE A TTORNEYS “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” Luke 11:46, NIV I. Introduction: If the courts are the stage for our play, then the prosecutors, defense attorneys, juries, witnesses, and the judges are the actors. The next three Lecture Notes will deal with these actors. These actors are on a quest for justice in each individual case. However, sometimes there are lapses in the criminal justice system that led to wholly innocent defendants being convicted of crimes, and this lecture note will deal with how prosecutors and defense attorneys contribute to this problem. II. Prosecutors : In order to get a realistic understanding of a day in the life of a prosecutor, pay special attention to the account rendered in your text. A. Ethical Responsibilities: “The state’s attorney represents all of the people, including the defendant. His duty is not only to secure convictions, but to see that justice is done. He is a public servant whose sole allegiance is to the people” (In re Guardianship of Angell , 167 N.E.2d 711, 714 [Ill. App. 1960]). The ABA also states that a prosecutor has the duty “to seek justice not merely to convict” (ABA Model Rules). “The prosecutor is simultaneously responsible for the community’s protection, victims’ desire for vengeance, defendants’ entitlement to a fair opportunity for vindication, and the state’s need for a criminal justice system that is efficient and seems fair” (Vollen, p. 50 quoting Vanderbilt Law Review). In short, the prosecutor is charged with finding justice in the case and pursuing it. Once a prosecutor is convinced of a defendant’s guilt, he/she should attempt to secure a conviction. However, this duty must be tempered by fairness, meaning that the prosecutor has a “duty to remain under appropriate restraint and to avoid violent partisanship, partiality, and misconduct which may tend to deprive the defendant of the fair trial to which he or she is entitled” (Joan C. McKenna, 63C Am. Jur. 2d Prosecuting Attorneys § 23 [2005]). B. When Things Go Wrong: According to a 2003 study, “Local prosecutors in many of the 2,341 jurisdictions across the nation have stretched, bent or broken rules to win convictions…. Since 1970, individual judges and appellate court panels cited prosecutorial misconduct as a factor when dismissing charges, reversing convictions or reducing sentences in over 2,000 cases. In another 500 cases, appellate judges offered opinions—either dissents or concurrences—in which they found the misconduct warranted a reversal. In thousands more, judges labeled prosecutorial behavior inappropriate, but upheld convictions using a doctrine called ‘harmless error’” 1 (Breaking the Rules ). The vast majority of the 1 Just think how many more cases of prosecutorial misconduct there would be if all jurisdictions were part of this survey.
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