If a defendant believes that he or she is a victim of prosecutorial misconduct. E or she may then file a claim and possibly have the verdict overturned. Fortunately for the prosecutor, he or she is protected from civil suits by the Supreme Court (Lute’s, 2003). The reasons that the Supreme Court allows prosecutors immunity is because they believe that prosecutors may otherwise fear civil lawsuits and not go forward with their accusations (Lute’s, 2003). The case of Ellen Reasoned is one that exemplifies prosecutorial misconduct.
She was found guilty by a grand Jury because they only heard the facts of the prosecution and therefore only had that to go on (Lute’s, 2003). The prosecution deliberately withheld a recording between Ellen and her boyfriend that proved she was unaware of the actuality of the situation and not sure why she was in jail (Lute’s, 2003). Had the recording displayed guilt on Allen’s behalf, the prosecution would gladly have used it at trial, but instead they chose to withhold it from the defense.
This case also showed misconduct on behalf of the prosecution because of the credibility of two witnesses they put on the stand and for not correcting false testimony of another (Lute’s, 2003). All three of these instances were used to show prosecutorial misconduct and caused for Allen’s conviction to be overturned and for her to be released from prison. (Lute’s, 2003). Had the prosecution not had Immunity, Ellen may have been saved from the time she spent behind bars because they would have been more careful about how they handled the case.
Ineffective Assistance by Criminal Defense Counsel Ineffective assistance by a criminal defense counsel occurs when a defense attorney does not properly represent the defendant that he or she Is supposed to be presenting. This can occur when the defense attorney offers advice to the defendant that Is not In the best Interest of the defendant, or when the defending attorney withholds evidence and/or information that may be beneficial to the defendant.
This ineffective assistance can ultimately cause for a defendant to be found guilty and receive a longer sentence than necessary. The case of Anthony Cooper is a great example of an attorney offering a client bargain by the prosecution that would bring him a prison sentence of 51 and 85 months (Ginsberg, 2012). Anthony attorney advised him not to take the plea bargain because he “believed that the prosecution couldn’t prove an intent to murder because Cooper didn’t point his gun above the waist of the person he shot” (Ginsberg, 2012).
This turned out to be wrong and Anthony was sentenced to 15-30 years in prison, which is much longer than he would have received if he had taken the plea bargain (Ginsberg, 2012). If the defense attorney had looked into the facts on intent to murder, he would have seen that the gun does not need to be pointed above the waist, and he could eave informed his client to take the plea bargain because it would be a difficult case to try. Instead, the defendant trusted his attorneys advice and is not serving an unnecessarily long sentence.
Judicial Misconduct Judicial misconduct occurs when a Judge acts unethically or illegally inside or outside of the courtroom. Some examples of this could be: inappropriate courtroom behavior such as sarcasm or rudeness, biased opinions, misuse of court funds, and not following the law (Freedman, 2012). The Judge is the person that rules over everyone else in the courtroom and is expected to follow the rules and laws Just like everyone else.
If he or she is found to have violated these rules and laws, it could result in him or her being removed from the position of Judge. Kenneth Post is a Judge that is facing charges because he “failed to follow the law, behaved inappropriately toward a defense lawyer and trivialize’ the seriousness of a criminal case” (Freedman, 2012). Although he admits he failed to act courteously in the trial, he does not believe that he committed any serious violations of the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct (Freedman, 2012).
Even though Kenneth believes he has not done anything serious, this is certainly not the belief of the defense. They believe that his behavior resulted in an unfair result for the defendant and have filed charges against him for this. Misconduct among Judges is not an uncommon thing and it is being found that more and more Judges are abusing their power. This can be very detrimental to the outcome of courtroom cases because the Judge is the person that ultimately decides the fate of those on trial.
The only Judicial selection option that I believe could help prevent these kinds of instances from occurring would be merit. This would force a judge to prove himself through his actions and not allow for him to be elected or appointed into office based on what someone else sees, thus reducing Judicial misconduct. Effect of Misconduct on Courtroom Participants If any of the above misconducts occur within the courtroom, it could seriously affect the entire courtroom and result in the innocent being locked up or the guilty being set free.