Document Type

Article

Comments

Michael Egger Prize (Best student Note or Comment on current social problems, on recommendation to the Dean by the Board of Officers on the Journal)

Abstract

This Essay takes the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Connick v. Thompson as a point of departure for examining the efficacy of professional responsibility measures in combating prosecutorial misconduct. John Thompson, the plaintiff in Connick, spent fourteen years on death row because prosecutors concealed exculpatory blood evidence from his defense attorneys. In rejecting Thompson’s attempt to hold the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office civilly liable for failing to train its prosecutors in proper discovery procedures, the Connick Court substantially narrowed one of the few remaining avenues for deterring prosecutorial misconduct. Implicit in the Court’s reasoning was a belief that district attorneys’ offices should be entitled to reasonably rely on professional responsibility measures to prevent prosecutorial misconduct. This Essay subjects that premise to a searching critique by surveying all fifty states’ lawyer disciplinary practices. Our study demonstrates that professional responsibility measures as they are currently composed do a poor job of policing prosecutorial misconduct. However, we also take seriously the Supreme Court’s insistence that those measures should function as the primary means of deterring misconduct. Accordingly, in addition to noting the deficiencies of professional responsibility measures, we offer a series of recommendations for enhancing their effectiveness.

Date of Authorship for this Version

2012

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