The US Justice System is represented by the scales of justice, balancing fairly each side of a case considered in court. The depiction of Lady Justice holding the scales while blindfolded and wielding a sword is the portrayal of objectivity and judicial authority. This representation is the ideal for each person accused of a crime, that they will have their day in court, be treated fairly and ….”without fear or favor, regardless of money, wealth, fame, power, or identity.”
We hold this symbolization of justice dear, however, in reality, there is an imbalance of power and justice by those sworn to objectivity uphold the law, but too many are more interested in the triumph of winning a case. Whether because of judicial misconduct or political favors, those in positions of power have mishandled the very lives of those they serve.
Management Resources commends those in law enforcement who take pride in the brave jobs they do on a daily basis. It is unfortunate that all the good work they do is often overshadowed by the few who mishandle their profession.
As investigators of wrongful convictions, we have seen examples of misconduct on many levels and will attempt to explain what has been uncovered in several of those cases.
Intimidation can occur within the initial interrogation by detectives investigating a crime. At times the premise of innocent until proven guilty goes out the window and the accused, as well as witnesses, are often pressured and harassed.
The intended outcomes of intimidating one accused of a crime can be to elicit information or a confession, and in cases where witnesses who may have pending criminal charges, there is an exchange for favorable testimony against the accused.
Prosecutors and those who work for the government’s side of a criminal case have unlimited resources when it comes to investigations. They have access to evidence and processing, forensic units & experts, previous criminal records, case files and pleas. They can use all these resources to build their case.
On the other hand, the defendant only has his knowledge of innocence or guilt in the crime for which they are accused. Unless a person hires investigators, their own experts, or can afford independent evidence testing, they are at the mercy of what’s produced by the prosecution and work to defend themselves against their proof.
Many people accused of crimes can’t afford a private attorney and are left with overworked, underpaid legal aid lawyers and lawyers from assigned counsel plans. These attorneys do their best for their clients, but the caseload they have are tremendous.
Remember, the prosecutor bears the burden of proof in a criminal case, but that proof must be reliable. The defendant is most often unable to afford the same resources to prove the reliability of the evidence presented.
Misconduct and accountability
“The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty and reputation than any other person in America.” – Former United States Attorney General and Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson
The adversarial position of prosecutors and defense attorneys is the basis for conflicting objectives within the framework of the law. Prosecutors are required to turn over all relevant material to the defense, whether or not it affects their case, and are charged with presenting the truth, not misusing their immense power in the judicial system.
Many cases of wrongful conviction occur because crucial evidence was withheld from the defense. Failure to produce all pertinent evidence is a violation of the Brady Rule explained in a previous article. Read complete article.
Unfortunately, prosecutors, police officers, detectives and other officials in the justice system are rarely held accountable for their bias, mistakes, or intended misconduct which ultimately affects the lives of the citizens they represent.
In order to ease the burden of the criminal justice system, plea bargains are offered to defendants who are allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge, have the more serious charge dismissed, and agree to a reduced prison term.
The defendant enters into the process already charged with a crime, but not proven guilty or innocent and relying on evidence produced only by the prosecutor. This is the point where the imbalance of power is dangerous.
A bargaining process that denies the right to a day in court to prove and argue evidence before a judge and/or jury is presented to defendants who may actually be innocent. During a plea bargain, the prosecutor does not have to reveal evidence before the court, therefore leaving little risk for misconduct, and essentially no consequences if misconduct occurs.
The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government….. NYC Supreme Court
The US Justice System must find a way to level the playing field for defendants accused of a crime. Although those who can’t afford to hire an attorney are given legal representation, they must have sufficient funding for defense attorneys and professional defense investigators.
Criminal defense attorneys must be convinced of the value offered by unbiased investigators whose mission is to find the truth. They must also take the stance of being the legal advocate for their client, the defendant, and not always take the easy offer of a plea bargain, but commit to revealing the truth.
To correct the flaws in the criminal justice system we must start at the very beginning of criminal charges when evidence is being gathered and witnesses are being interviewed. The rights of the accused must not be forgotten, and we should have the resources available to ensure those rights.
The victims who are seeking justice must be guaranteed the right person is convicted of the crime and not continue to be free and commit further criminal acts.
The criminal justice system must work equally for both sides; until that happens we will see more wrongful convictions, misconduct without accountability, and criminals who are walking the streets looking for the next victim.
Management Resources Ltd of New York is a professional investigative firm licensed in New York and New Jersey, members of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Associated Licensed Detectives of New York, and Founding Members and Regional Directors of Investigating Innocence.
Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are available for interviews or speaking engagements.Contact ImaginePublicity at 843-808-08509 or email firstname.lastname@example.org