Legal Ethics

Calif. Bar Reviewing Records of 130 Prosecutors for Discipline After Report

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In response to a study released this month by the Northern California Innocence Project stating that California courts disciplined prosecutorial misconduct less than 1 percent of time, the State Bar of California is reviewing the records of 130 prosecutors named in that report.

The study of more than 4,000 state and appellate decisions between 1997 and 2009 identified 707 cases in which the courts found that prosecutors had committed misconduct. The courts reversed 159 of those convictions, but the state bar only publicly disciplined six prosecutors. The state bar now plans to review those 159 cases handled between them by 130 prosecutors.

Scott Thorpe, director of the California District Attorneys Association told the San Jose Mercury News the study exaggerated prosecutorial misconduct.”We’re likely to find that the overwhelming majority of cases reflect simply human mistakes that don’t rise to the level of discipline.”

State bar deputy trial counsel Cydney Batchelor told the San Jose Mercury News that they expect that in most of these cases, the courts did not report the prosecutorial conduct to the state bar even though they are required to do in harmful error cases. The Innocence Project study also stated that such lapses by state courts are routine.

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