The Unethical Quest for ‘Successful Prosecutions’

The ABA’s Criminal Justice Standards for the Prosecution Function state:

“The primary duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice within the bounds of the law, not merely to convict. The prosecutor serves the public interest and should act with integrity and balanced judgment to increase public safety both by pursuing appropriate criminal charges of appropriate severity, and by exercising discretion to not pursue criminal charges in appropriate circumstances. The prosecutor should seek to protect the innocent and convict the guilty, consider the interests of victims and witnesses, and respect the constitutional and legal rights of all persons, including suspects and defendants.”

Ignoring this ethical mandate, some prosecutors now support the use of “victim-centered,” “trauma-informed,” and “Start By Believing” methods because they remove the presumption of innocence, promote one-sided investigations, and support biased investigative reports. Prosecutors have a phrase that rationalizes the use of such unethical methods: “successful prosecution,” which of course means the suspect, innocent or not, is convicted of the crime.

Following are examples of such programs that justify their use because they support “successful prosecutions:”