Resolution Regarding Prosecutor Accountability
WHEREAS prosecutors are the most powerful figure in the criminal justice system, and make decisions that can have enduring consequences on persons’ reputation, livelihood, freedom, and even life.
WHEREAS an Urban Institute study found that among men convicted and imprisoned for rape, a post-conviction analysis revealed in 15% of cases there was no DNA match, indicating these men had been wrongfully convicted; and
WHEREAS 43% of wrongful convictions arise from misconduct involving prosecutors and other officials; and
WHEREAS there is insufficient accountability for prosecutorial decision-making, and prosecutors who engage in misconduct almost never experience disciplinary sanctions.
Therefore be it resolved, that:
- Oversight mechanisms should be put in place to bring an end to the practices of over-charging and charging without probable cause; and
- Methods of assuring transparency, accountability, and honesty should be brought to the plea-bargaining process, and
- States should encourage open-file discovery in criminal cases; and
- Following a judicial finding of prosecutor misconduct, judicial officials should automatically report the case to an oversight body for investigation and appropriate discipline; and
- States should establish independent Prosecutor Review Boards to investigate ethics complaints and impose appropriate sanctions; and
- Legal barriers that prevent wrongfully convicted persons from seeking legal remedies against prosecutors who engage in unethical conduct should be removed; and
- Prosecutors should be required to take annual continuing legal education courses on prosecutorial ethics.
NOTE: This model resolution can be modified as appropriate.