Prosecutorial Misconduct Related To Criminal Cases In Los Angeles
This issue related to prosecutors engaging in misconduct related to criminal cases in Los Angeles is a big one. I’ve had a number of cases where there’s been activities by the prosecutors that are just not appropriate and not in line with seeking justice. I had one case where the main witness or the main alleged victim in the case we knew was a drug dealer and was involved in a drug deal at the time this alleged crime went down. He wouldn’t talk to my investigators. He obviously was talking to the police investigators and he certainly wasn’t telling them anything about being involved in a drug deal.
Where the prosecutorial misconduct came in is the prosecutor interviewed him before the trial and he admitted that he was involved in a drug deal when the whole thing went down, and the prosecutor did not disclose this to the defense. So, the jury trial starts. I’m cross-examining the witness and I say, you were a drug dealer and you were dealing drugs when all this went down. He said you’re absolutely right. I’ve told the prosecutor that, and we said, when did you tell the prosecutor? He said he told them that like two weeks ago. At that point, the trial was stopped and the prosecutor had violated his duty to turn over statements and turn over evidence that is exculpatory to the defendant. In other words, it helps the defendant. It could get the defendant a not guilty verdict that could help the defendant get a lesser charge. That information has to be turned over to the defense and not to do so is definitely prosecutorial misconduct.
So, the prosecutors are very careful in Los Angeles County when you ask them for discovery or they turn the discovery over that they make sure they give it to you. You have to sign for it and they know that this s definitely, where they could get in trouble.
Other forms of prosecutorial misconduct that I’ve seen is intimidating witnesses where they kind of try to tell the witness what to say and they threaten witnesses sometimes, and if they don’t testify a certain way then they’re going to be prosecuted. They’re going to be put in jail. This type of conduct would obviously be prosecutorial misconduct, would be highly inappropriate and if anybody found out about it that prosecutor would be subject to discipline and the defendant would certainly be entitled to something, depending on what the circumstances were of the case and when the prosecutorial misconduct occurred.
Other than that, I would say I have been practicing now for twenty-five years in LA County. I worked for the DA’s office. In the early 1990’s, I worked for a judge. So, I’ve seen a lot of things. I would say the District Attorney’s office and the City Attorney’s office in-Los Angeles are pretty on the up and up. There are always examples of prosecutors, just like there are people in any line of work that are not fair and are really just seeking to prosecute people instead of looking at all sides of the story. But for the most part, both those branches of prosecutorial people are very reasonable, try to be fair, don’t try to play games – not like in the civil arena.
I would say prosecutorial misconduct in Los Angeles County is not rampant. It very rarely occurs for a number of reasons. One, again I think the prosecutors are well-respected in LA, but also because you get in big trouble. Not only do you ruin the case for the government if you’re engaged in prosecutorial misconduct in LA, you could be subject to being disciplined by the State Bar of California, lose your license, lose your job – so they’re not going to get involved in that type of stuff. That’s a very dangerous thing for them to get involved in any type of actions that can be construed as being prosecutorial misconduct.
If you have a case where you think the prosecutor is being unreasonable or is engaged in misconduct, obviously you want to get in front of an attorney as soon as possible and make sure that that attorney looks at any angle of your case so that you can use every angle to get out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible.
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