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Prosecutorial Misconduct: An Essential Term of Art (From the President)
By Cynthia Hujar Orr
After working on a report and recommendation regarding prosecutorial misconduct and the vindication of defendants’ constitutional rights in criminal trials, I had occasion to review the report of the ABA’s Ad Hoc Innocence Committee to Ensure the Integrity of the Criminal Process. I was stunned. I could find no reference to prosecutorial misconduct whatsoever in any of the chapters of the report. I knew intuitively that prosecutorial misconduct was one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions. And yet, it was not even addressed in the chapter on “Prosecution Practices.”
Within the chapter on law enforcement’s “Investigative Policies and Personnel,”1 the report discusses training to prevent illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior impacting innocent persons. In the same chapter, under the title “Misconduct,” it warns that misconduct can lead to the conviction of an innocent person. Finally, in the introduction to the chapter on “Compensation for the Wrongly Convicted,” the rep
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