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Prosecutor Misconduct Debated

Posted Jul 12, 2007 11:32 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Lawyers sparred over the extent of prosecutorial misconduct in California at a hearing convened yesterday by a state commission studying problems in the criminal justice system.

Santa Clara University law professor Cookie Ridolfi presented findings that judges had found prosecutorial misconduct in 443 of more than 2,100 California cases in the last 10 years, the Los Angeles Times reports. And that’s just “the tip of the iceberg,” Ridolfi said, since the vast majority of cases are resolved by plea bargains.

"Prosecutorial misconduct occurs with some frequency in this state, and prosecutors are rarely disciplined for their misconduct," Ridolfi said.

Michael Schwartz, a Ventura County prosecutor, said a closer look at the figures shows courts found such misconduct in only one out of 800 appeals.

The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice held the hearing as part of its state-mandated study of reasons why innocent people are convicted.

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