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Taking Prosecutorial Misconduct ‘Unseriously’: Brady Violations and The Myth of Professional Accountability
By Joel B. Rudin
Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from a lengthier article that appeared in the Fordham Law Review. See Joel B. Rudin, The Supreme Court Assumes Errant Prosecutors Will Be Disciplined by Their Offices or the Bar: Three Case Studies that Prove that Assumption Wrong, 80 Fordham L. Rev. 537 (2011).
Prosecutors have complete or absolute immunity from suit for their actions, even when taken in bad faith, in the course of carrying out their function of litigating criminal cases. In justifying this rule, which it adopted in Imbler v. Pachtman1 and expanded upon in subsequent cases,2 the Supreme Court has assumed that the threat of professional discipline would deter prosecutors from violating the obligations of their office. “[A] prosecutor stands perhaps unique, among officials whose acts could deprive persons of constitutional rights, in his amenability to professional discipline by an association of his peers,” the Court reasoned in Imbler,3 and has consistently reiterated
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