Contact: Teri Stoddard
In Wake of New Orleans Prosecutor Scandal, CPI Calls for Strong Oversight Measures
WASHINGTON / September 25, 2013 – Following last week’s revelations of “grotesque prosecutorial misconduct” in a New Orleans police shooting case, the Center for Prosecutor Integrity is releasing a new report that calls for strong oversight measures designed to assure ethical prosecutor conduct and stop wrongful convictions.
The report, Roadmap for Prosecutor Reform, lays out 20 reforms designed to enhance the accountability of local, state, and federal prosecutors. The reforms are intended to correct prosecutor abuses in such areas as over-charging of suspects, concealing evidence, and coercing witnesses.
The report is intended for lawmakers, legal oversight boards, and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system. Roadmap for Prosecutor Reform is available here: http://www.prosecutorintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/RoadmapProsecutorReform.pdf
On April 4, 2012, five New Orleans police officers were sentenced to stiff prison sentences for spraying a New Orleans bridge with gunfire in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But last week, U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt overturned the convictions. The decision was based on admissions that prosecutors had posted anonymous online comments about the case, conduct that the federal judge described as “grotesque.”
A previous CPI report concluded prosecutor misconduct is widespread in our nation’s criminal justice system: http://www.prosecutorintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/EpidemicofProsecutorMisconduct.pdf. Only rarely does prosecutor misconduct result in the imposition of sanctions, the report revealed.
“When prosecutors engage in dishonest and unethical behavior that results in a wrongful conviction, this should be treated like white collar crime,” notes CPI spokesperson Sheryle Hutter. “And lawyer disciplinary boards need to stop giving a free pass to unscrupulous prosecutors.”
To date, over 1,200 persons have been found to have been wrongfully convicted. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 43% of wrongful convictions arise from misconduct by prosecutors and other government officials.
The Center for Prosecutor Integrity is working to preserve the presumption of innocence, assure equal treatment under law, and bring an end to wrongful convictions: www.prosecutorintegrity.org