PROSECUTORIAL OVERSIGHT: A NATIONAL DIALOGUE IN THE WAKE OF CONNICK V. THOMPSON
On the fifth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Connick v. Thompson, which granted prosecutors broad immunity for their misconduct, the VERITAS Initiative and a coalition of innocence organizations released, Prosecutorial Oversight: A National Dialogue in the Wake of Connick v. Thompson, calling for greater transparency and accountability for prosecutors. Although prosecutors have long argued that there are sufficient systems in place to guard against misconduct, the VERITAS initiative reviewed court findings of misconduct over a five-year period for five states, documenting 660 findings of misconduct – a likely undercount given the difficulties in identifying this behavior. Of these cases, we know of only one prosecutor who was disciplined for his misconduct, and that took a change of law by the Texas Legislature. The report, which was produced in conjunction with forums featuring a broad array of criminal justice stakeholders in the five states surveyed, provides a list of recommendations that states should pursue to increase prosecutorial transparency and accountability.
MATERIAL INDIFFERENCE: HOW COURTS ARE IMPEDING FAIR DISCLOSURE IN CRIMINAL CASES
In courtrooms across the nation, accused persons are convicted without ever having seen information that was favorable to their defense. The frequency with which this occurs and the role it plays in wrongful convictions prompted NACDL and the VERITAS Initiative to undertake an unprecedented study of Brady claims litigated in federal courts over a five-year period. The Study asked: What role does judicial review play in the disclosure of favorable information to accused? The results revealed a troubling answer—the judiciary is impeding fair disclosure in criminal cases and, in doing so, encouraging prosecutors to disclose as little favorable information as possible.
PREVENTABLE ERROR: A REPORT ON PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT IN CALIFORNIA 1997-2009
A Report on Prosecutorial Misconduct in California 1997–2009 is the most comprehensive, up-to-date, quantitative and actionable study on the extent of prosecutorial misconduct in California, how the justice system identifies and addresses it, and its cost and consequences, including the wrongful conviction of innocent people. By shining a light on prosecutorial conduct, this groundbreaking research, the work of leading experts in the field will serve as a catalyst for reform.
CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON THE FAIR ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE (CCFAJ)
The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice was created by Senate Resolution No. 44 of the 2003-04 Session of the California State Senate, adopted on August 27, 2004. The mandate of the Commission was:
- To study and review the administration of criminal justice in California to determine the extent to which that process has failed in the past, resulting in wrongful executions or the wrongful conviction of innocent persons.
- To examine ways of providing safeguards and making improvements in the way the criminal justice system functions.
- To make any recommendations and proposals designed to further ensure that the application and administration of criminal justice in California is just, fair, and accurate; and be it further
The VERITAS Initiative was built upon the work of Professor Ridolfi done on behalf of the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice (CCFAJ). As a CCFAJ commissioner, Professor Ridolfi conducted a 10-year study of prosecutorial misconduct in California focusing on the years 1997-2006. This work served as a precursor to “Preventable Error”, published in 2010, which was co-authored by Professor Ridolfi and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Maurice Possley.