Ethical Issues In Criminal Prosecutors

1408 Words 6 Pages
In the United States criminal justice system, the prosecutor has the obligation for deciding what and how crimes will be prosecuted. The “legal system has traditionally accorded wide discretion to criminal prosecutors in the enforcement process”. As long as “the prosecutor has probable cause to believe that the accused committed an offense defined by statute, the decision whether or not to prosecute and what charge to file or bring before a grand jury, rests entirely in his discretion”. Granted with such discretion, state attorneys heavily rely upon victims in criminal cases as sources of information and have the ability to use such information in their decision-making. As was noted in Section I of this paper, while prosecutors do represent …show more content…
Such prosecutors create ethical dilemmas. These prosecutors do not solely exist on television shows, many are in fact, officials elected by the public that campaign on a platform centered around victims, that prioritize the number of victories they have had in court, support the use of the death penalty, and portray themselves as vengeful justice seekers. For example, Jeanine Pirro a former district attorney has explained that she views her role exists in a “battleground where the fight of good and evil [occurs]. We cannot take away [victims] pain or undo the damage, but we can be the avengers. We can seek justice on their behalf”. It is highly likely that many prosecutors throughout the United States agree with such a statement and it would be easily conceivable that such prosecutors would favor associating themselves with victims. These same prosecutors may find it difficult to ethically gage the credibility of a victim or the merits of a criminal case through objective means, hence, leading to an undermining of the legal rights of a defendant. It is difficult to argue, that a prosecutor with a mentality bent on vengeance for the victim can be trusted to divulge appropriate information to the defense that would exonerate the defendant or impeach a witness of the prosecution as is demanded …show more content…
A prosecutor that fails to create a repertoire with a victim, fails to consider a victims interest, or fails to keep a victim informed about the progress of a case is likely to disgruntle the victim. Further strain will be placed on the relationship if the prosecutor also fails to notify the victim about scheduling changes, upcoming subpoenas, overall status of the case, or important discretionary decisions concerning filing charges, dismissing charges, or proposing a plea deal. Prior to legislation advocating for victims rights and parameters for prosecutor’s communication with victims, prosecutors largely ignored informing victims on the basics of litigation and made discretionary choices without consulting the victim. Usually a victim would have to reach out to the prosecutor or the court if they wanted any updates. The victim also had minimal legal recourse to affect any change to the result of a case. Currently, victims have more legally protected rights then before. Such as the right to be consulted before a prosecutor makes discretionary decisions and they have the ability to be heard when the defendant enters a plea of guilty in front of the court. However, the extent of their rights or powers is restricted in regard to how a prosecutor’s exercises their discretion in making the ultimate judgment to obtain

Related Documents

Related Topics