Washington, DC: It’s hard to imagine an issue more pressing in America today than racial justice and equity. Prosecutors across the country are deeply troubled by current research and disturbing current events. Many have heard the voices in their community calling for change yet wonder what they can do to promote racial equity beyond the actions they are already taking to ensure a just society for everyone
A Washington, DC anti-racism group is now demanding action from the White house, and The DOJ’s office into a recent incident at The United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
Last year, The Western District of North Carolinas U.S. Assistant Attorney Jenny Grus Sugar, filed criminal charges against innocent law-abiding citizens regarding COVID-19 relief funds.
There are tremendous amounts of evidence that unveil Mrs. Sugar’s target on this innocent family because of their background, and faith. She is using all of her tools to coerce a plea deal and avoid a Jury Trial. American University wrote an open letter to Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco, and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland following the recent reports concerning Prosecutorial misconduct.
“The reality is that nearly all [the prosecutor’s] decisions to prosecute or not to prosecute… and nearly all her reasons for decisions are carefully kept secret, so that review by the electorate is nonexistent except for the occasional case that happens to be publicized. The plain fact is that more than nine-tenths of local prosecutors’ decisions are supervised or reviewed by no one” Kenneth Culp Davis, Discretionary Justice : A Preliminary Inquiry 207-08 (1969).
Despite her vast power, the American prosecutor is subject to much less accountability than other criminal justice officials. The most important prosecutorial functions are performed in private, and legal remedies for victims of discriminatory treatment are inadequate. Furthermore, the electoral system does not operate as an effective mechanism of accountability.
The prosecution function is in great need of reform. Even though most prosecutors perform their duties legally and ethically, their practices and policies often produce unjust results. As elected officials and public servants, prosecutors should have a great interest in uncovering inequities and eliminating disparate treatment of similarly situated criminal defendants and crime victims. By creating more transparency in the charging and plea-bargaining processes, informing their constituents of their practices and policies, and taking steps to eliminate race and class inequities, prosecutors would go a long way towards restoring fairness and the balance of power in the American criminal justice system.
As the Supreme Court has famously written, the government’s interest in a criminal prosecution “is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done.” An inscription on the walls of the Department of Justice, just outside the door to the Attorney General’s office, expresses similar sentiments: “The United States wins its point whenever justice is done its citizens in the courts.”
For that reason, federal prosecutors have a special duty – imposed not only by their professional obligations but the Constitution itself – to ensure fairness in a criminal case. They engage in prosecutorial misconduct when they improperly or illegally act (or fail to act, when required to do so) in a way that causes a defendant to be wrongfully convicted or punished unjustifiably.
Prosecutorial misconduct comes in many forms. Prosecutors in the United States exercise substantial control over most phases of a criminal case – from participating in the investigation, to deciding what charges to seek, to recommending a sentence after conviction – and prosecutorial misconduct can infect any stage of this process.
Actions that courts have labeled prosecutorial misconduct include:
- Using improper investigative techniques, such as “entrapment” – inducing a person to commit a crime who was not otherwise disposed to commit it.
- Bringing criminal charges in bad faith without realistic hope of winning a conviction – for example, to punish a political rival, or to retaliate against someone.
- Making statements to the media that prejudice the jury pool.
- Engaging in improper plea-bargaining – for example, convincing a defendant to plead guilty through false promises or misrepresentations about the existence of incriminating evidence.
- Failing to turn over exculpatory evidence.
- Tampering with evidence.
- Knowingly presenting false witness testimony or other false evidence to a court or grand jury.
- Asking a defendant or defense witness damaging and suggestive questions with no factual basis.
- Making improper statements in front of the jury – for example, expressing a personal opinion about the guilt of a defendant or the credibility of testimony, mentioning facts not in evidence, or criticizing the defendant for exercising his constitutional right not to testify.