Monday, March 24, 2008
Perjury, obstruction, conspiracy, and misconduct, are the charges brought by the Wayne County prosecutor against the Mayor of Detroit and his former chief of staff. Dan Webb is representing the mayor and is calling this a "selective prosecution." The prosecutor in this case chose to respond to what was said by defense counsel.
The press reports that the basis for the "selective prosecution" claim is that the prosecutor has never charged anyone with the crime of perjury for statements made during a civil matter.
Selective prosecution claims are difficult to win in the pre-trial stage. Prosecutors have broad discretion in their charging powers and as long as there is probable cause of the commission of the crime charged, the decision "generally rests entirely within the prosecutor's discretion." See Bordenkircher v. Hayes, 434 U.S. 357, 364 (1978). That said, if the prosecutor uses an impermissible factor, such as race or religion, it's a different story. Although selective prosecution claims may be difficult to prove in a pre-trial stage, if allowed into evidence it can make for an interesting jury consideration. Couple that with perjury, a difficult charge for prosecutors in that it requires clear questions with clear answers, and the case will be one to follow.