Prosecutorial misconduct has been a contributing factor in 42% of wrongful conviction cases. Recently it has seen many outspoken critics. In a recent article by The New York Times the issue was raised by its editors wherein they make mention of the fact that prosecutors are obliged to bring to the court any exculpatory evidence that could change the verdict pursuant to the 1963 Supreme Court ruling on Brady v. Maryland. This obligation is counter-intuitive for prosecutors, because they are primarily striving to bring justice to the community through convictions.
The Editorial Board of the New York Times wrote “The lack of professional consequences for failing to disclose exculpatory evidence only makes the breach of duty more likely. As Judge Kozinski wrote, “Some prosecutors don’t care about Brady because courts don’t make them care.” Others have also recently bemoaned the acceptable nature of frequent prosecutorial misconduct and have shamed judges for not upholding the obligations of Brady v. Maryland.
In response to this outcry, the Center for Prosecutor Integrity began tracking and monitoring prosecutorial integrity around the country and they have created a registry of cases of prosecutorial misconduct. “The CPI Registry of Prosecutorial Misconduct enables policymakers, researchers, and others to identify common types of misconduct, assess trends, and compare jurisdictions.” This new registry was opened to the public during the first week of January 2014. It is searchable by a number of identifying details like crime, state, type of trial (federal or not), prosecutor name, case name, as well as finding.
The Registry of Prosecutorial Misconduct defines prosecutorial misconduct “as a violation of a code of professional ethics or pertinent law, or other conduct that prejudices the administration of justice, whether intentional or inadvertent. Inclusion of a case in the Registry is based on a finding of prosecutorial misconduct by a trial court, appellate court, supreme court, or legal disciplinary body.”
Not only did the Center for Prosecutor Integrity create a highly usable and friendly database for the public to use but they have also created a graph to accompany the newly founded database. The graph denotes that 84 of the cases found in the database of 200 were a result of pretrial Brady violations on behalf of the prosecutors. It can be found here. This database is one of the first steps in determining the larger picture of prosecutorial misconduct and holding those responsible accountable for abusing the public trust. The CPI database can be found here.