July 11, 2005
Federal-State Turf Wars Can Cause Problems
Evaluating whether state or federal prosecutors are in the best position to proceed with a prosecution can be an important decision. In some cases it can require examining the law in both systems (state and federal) and determining which jurisdiction provides the prosecution with a sound case Sometimes, however, these decisions are not easy.
According to Newsday here, the question in a recent case involving alleged police corruption, is whether federal RICO charges are within the statute of limitations. Although RICO allows conduct from beyond a normal statute of limitations, it does require a recent act. The benefit to the prosecution with RICO is that it can expand the relevant evidence by bringing in conduct that might normally be outside the statute of limitations range and also evidence of co-conspirator statements when the charge is RICO conspiracy. RICO does, however, require an act within the normal statute of limitation range, and the predicate acts may need "continuity plus relationship." These are some of the aspects of a case that need to be evaluated in determining whether the state or federal system provides the best forum for a prosecution.
Prosecutors in NY (both federal and state) are learning the importance of making the correct decision in these matters. They are also learning the need to have strong cooperation between the two entities when these decisions are made.
(esp) (with thanks to Joel Podgor for alerting us to this article)
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