November 12, 2010
Prosecutorial Power and Accountability
Hat tip to CrimProf Blog for calling attention to the following two articles:
Ronald F. Wright (Wake Forest) & Marc L. Miller (Arizona), The Worldwide Accountability Deficit for Prosecutors [SSRN] From the abstract:
In democratic governments committed to the rule of law, the prosecutor must be accountable both to the people and to their laws. The theoretical need for prosecutor accountability, however, meets practical shortcomings in criminal justice systems everywhere. Because individual responsibility is the origin of good behavior among prosecutors, it does not generate the level of public trust that one might expect in a government of laws. Institutional strategies to guarantee prosecutor accountability all fall short of the mark. Call it the accountability deficit.
Darryl K. Brown (Virginia), American Prosecutors’ Powers and Obligations In the Era of Plea Bargaining [SSRN]. Abstract:
This paper, written as a chapter for a forthcoming volume on international comparisons of prosecutors’ roles in various jurisdictions, provides a basic overview of the different rules and practical constraints on American prosecutors. It offers a critical view of how state and federal prosecutors differ in the exercise of their discretion and ability to influence adjudication outcomes according to variations in such factors as sentencing rules, control over investigations, resource constraints and the pervasiveness of plea bargaining. It describes, for instance, the effect of generally stronger evidence gathering in federal prosecutions and the ability of charging discretion to compensate for weak government evidence in achieving convictions through pleas.