Innocence Project cites one state’s excessive prosecutorial abuse

An ample amount of prosecutorial discretion is something that many people involved in or who study the criminal justice system often simply assume.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys, who understandably have a deep well of knowledge concerning the criminal process and strategies to employ against crime charges, also know that some prosecutors do occasionally step over the line when they bring cases and seek convictions. Prosecutorial abuse fatally undermines the notion of fundamental fairness and a level playing field in a criminal matter, and instances of such abuse unsurprisingly attract considerable media attention.

Take the study released earlier this year by the Northern California Innocence Project, for example, which excoriated Texas district attorneys for the alleged high level of prosecutorial abuse that occurs in that state. The Project reported more than 90 cases of either material prosecutorial error or misconduct that occurred within a studied span of four years.

That report apparently rankled state prosecutors, to such an extent that a district attorneys’ group released its own “counter” report challenging the Project’s number. Instead of the 91 problematic instances reported, the Texas District & County Attorneys Association points to a mere six that it says raise “serious questions.”

That in turn has brought return comments from the project, with Cookie Ridolfi, its director, standing by her organization’s research and saying that the Texas prosecutors “have not been unfairly criticized.”

“In fact, their conduct has been unjustly ignored until now,” she says. “I don’t see them as victims in this.”

Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “Texas district attorneys dispute report on prosecutorial misconduct,” Norman Merchant, Sept. 11, 2012

  • An even playing field in the criminal justice system advances the public interest by ensuring impartiality and fundamental fairness. Our Atlanta criminal defense firm provides proven and impassioned representation to persons charged with crimes who face the formidable tools and resources of state and federal prosecutors. For further information, please visit our Georgia Criminal Defense Overview page.