When mistakes lead to unfair trials

courtroom witnessA Louisiana district attorney has decided not to defend before the Supreme Court the conviction of an intellectually disabled teenage boy charged with robbery and murder. The Washington Post reports that prosecutors in the case failed to provide the teen’s attorneys with recorded witness statements that could have undermined prosecution witnesses, including the only person who claimed to be a witness to the shooting. The Post reports that the recorded statements suggested that the teen may have been set up. Mary McCord and Douglas Letter, two litigators and visiting professors at Georgetown University Law Center, examine the ramifications of prosecutorial mistakes and withholding evidence in this analysis at The Post.

Denying innocence despite evidence

What do you do when a prosecutor refuses to clear an accused person despite evidence proving their innocence? A cover story at Slate.com examines the effects of “innocence deniers,” prosecutors who aren’t just hindering justice; they’re actually working against it.

In an adversarial legal system, it’s natural to presume that prosecutors and defense attorneys are driven by the same goal: to win. They aren’t. In Berger v. United States, decided in 1935, the Supreme Court famously declared that the prosecution’s ultimate goal “is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done.” A prosecutor, the court wrote, “is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer.”

Read more about how innocent lives are affected by prosecutors who insist that, despite the evidence to the contrary, people who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes are in fact guilty.