Contact: Chris Perry
Following Revelations of Gross Investigative Misconduct, CPI Calls on Prosecutors to Restore Impartiality and Honesty in Criminal Investigations
WASHINGTON / September 12, 2016 – In the wake of a recent New York Times article exposing severe detective misconduct that led to a wrongful conviction, the Center for Prosecutor Integrity is calling on prosecutors and detectives to re-affirm ethical precepts that affirm the need for impartial, objective, and honest criminal investigations.
In a New York City case, Wayne Martin was the prime suspect in a 2005 double-homicide. But the police report revealed two witness had stated Martin was not the perpetrator. So a police detective took it upon himself to blank out these sentences from the report. As a result, Martin was convicted of the homicides and sentenced to life without parole. This past Wednesday, Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson moved to dismiss all charges against Wayne Martin (1).
Detective impartiality is currently threatened by an approach termed “victim-centered” investigations, which advises investigators to hand “control of the process back to the victim,” allow the complainant “to request certain investigative steps not be conducted,” assume that “all sexual assault cases are valid unless established otherwise,” and even “start by believing” the complainants’ allegations (2).
Investigators who adhere to “victim-centered” approaches have been known to discount contradictory statements, accept implausible claims at face value, decline to interview key witnesses recommended by the suspect, and omit exculpatory evidence from their reports. As a result, the presumption of innocence is lost and wrongful convictions become more likely.
Wrongful Conviction Day will be observed on Tuesday, October 4. The Center for Prosecutor Integrity will be highlighting the important role of investigators and detectives in collecting, compiling, and presenting the evidence that will eventually determine the innocence or guilt of the suspect (3).
The Center for Prosecutor Integrity works to strengthen prosecutorial ethics, curb over-criminalization, and bring an end to wrongful convictions.