CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, October 2, 2023

Hessick & Su on The (Local) Prosecutor

Carissa Byrne Hessick and Rick Su (University of North Carolina School of Law and University of North Carolina School of Law) have posted The (Local) Prosecutor (Wisconsin Law Review, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The rise of the reform prosecutor has led to a backlash. Many states have sought to circumvent the power of reform prosecutors, others to sanction them, and some to replace them with unelected appointees. These efforts have been met with resistance and, in some instances, with legal challenges. Resolving those challenges may prove difficult because local prosecutors straddle three distinct axis within state governments: the horizontal divide between its branches, the vertical divide between the state government and its local subdivisions, and the constitutional divide between constitutional and statutory offices. This essay exposes the significant state variation in the legal classification of prosecutors along these divides, and it explains how that variation not only complicates the legal status of prosecutors within any particular state, but also prevents the formation of a shared understanding of what role the local prosecutor plays in state government. Such an understanding is of increasing importance as the enormous discretion delegated to prosecutors and the deepening partisan divides within states suggest that intense battles over the role of the prosecutor are likely to continue.

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