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Prosecutor Pool

Select criminal prosecutors from the pool of professional defense attorneys
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One of the problems facing the criminal justice system is that it becomes very easy for the goal of prosecutors to shift from seeing justice done to winning at any cost. There are numerous reasons for this, but it basically comes down to the fact that the prosecuting attorney is all too often being graded (either by his supervisors, by politicians, or by the voting public) based on the appearance of being "tough on crime". The career path of a prosecutor is unfortunately determined by how many convictions he has, because there's no easy way to measure how much justice was done. The solution, then, would be to remove this pressure from prosecutors somehow.

Under this proposal, there would be a separate bar roster maintained for attorneys whose main practice involves criminal defense trials. When a prosecutor is needed on a case, one of these attorneys would be summoned to take on the task. Up until the actual trial, the case would be handled by an "investigating prosecutor", who is a government employee and is responsible for determining the facts and making the decision of what charges to file. Once the trial starts, however, the trial prosecutor takes over, and is the final authority on how to proceed in the case. The trial prosecutor would be then be duty bound to do his best to see that justice is done, but since he wouldn't ultimately be accountable to the government or the public for his actions (within reason), he wouldn't have the same pressure to try and manipulate the facts and the jury to present a distorted picture of a questionable case.

Of course, this raises the possibility that prosecutors might simply throw the trial, presenting an ineffective case or colluding with their defense attorney buddies. So there still needs to be some accountability, and this accountability would come from the bar. Whenever a question is raised about the performance of a prosecutor, the government could request the bar to empower an independent board to review the case and determine whether the prosecutor's actions were reasonable. The attorney is called in to defend his decision. If the attorney is found to have made grossly unreasonable decisions then sanctions may be imposed, from being suspended from the criminal defense attorney roster for a period of time (thus forbidding him from representing criminal defendants in court) up to and including disbarment and a referral for criminal prosecution in severe cases of misconduct.

Trial prosecutors might receive a small stipend for their work, but they would be exempt from jury duty, in essence trading one civic responsibility for another.

ytk, May 26 2012

Re-offender Defence Team Liability Re-offender_20Defence_20Team_20Liability
Polar, meet opposite... [oscil8, Jun 01 2012]


       As prosecution and defense are in their own right both distinctly different specialties, requiring not only separate education and experience but also an entirely different mindset, wouldn't this tend to favor the defense? It seems a bit like asking a cardiac surgeon to do orthopedic reconstruction.
Alterother, May 26 2012

       They're not so different. The education required is exactly the same. And In order to be a successful prosecutor you have to think like a defense attorney, and vice versa. It's fairly common for criminal defense lawyers to start their careers out as prosecutors, then later move into private practice where the money is better.   

       Anyway, a good lawyer should be able to argue any position.
ytk, May 26 2012

       Okay. I thought they were much more like medical or financial specialties, but I guess that's not really so. I withdraw my objection, Your Honor.
Alterother, May 26 2012

       Yeah, it's not at all like medicine. England (along with perhaps some other Commonwealth countries) makes a distinction between barristers, who appear in court, and solicitors, who handle other legal matters. There are indeed separate requirements, and attorneys generally do not go from one to the other. But in the U.S. of A., all you need is a law degree and to have passed the bar exam, and you're permitted to practice any sort of law you wish, whether that be defending traffic tickets or corporate tax law.
ytk, May 26 2012

       I guess what made me think of it like that is that there are so many types of lawyers who never enter the courtroom, and they all seem to focus on just one thing, like drafting certain types of legal contracts or handling private estates. So, technically, any of those non-courtroom types are still legally qualified to argue a case in front of a jury??
Alterother, May 26 2012

       Yep; in the U.S., at least, that's exactly right. But that's also true for medicine and other professions as well. There's no /legal/ reason why your family practitioner couldn't perform brain surgery (except it would probably violate the terms of his malpractice coverage).
ytk, May 27 2012

       I'm well aware of that, but I can think of a gazillion reasons why he _wouldn't_. I'm much better acquainted with the medical professional field than I am with the world of law. It's a family thing.
Alterother, May 27 2012

       //Prosecutor Pool//   

       I'm picturing a pool table where the balls have caricatures of lawyer's faces and vests, and you can smack them into each other.
phundug, May 29 2012

       // I'm picturing a pool table //   

       And I'm picturing a Playboy Mansion pool party, but everyone looks like Hugh
oscil8, Jun 01 2012

Alterother, Jun 01 2012

       The law and justice parted ways a very long time ago; kudos for trying to fix that though.
Phrontistery, Jun 02 2012

       The difference between barristers and solicitors, in the Commonwealth system, is that a barrister is a specialist courtroom lawyer.   

       A solicitor "solicits" a barrister, on behalf of a client (plaintiff or defendant) to represent them. In general, the public may not directly approach a barrister. In a couple of states there are "amalgam" practitioners, who may appear in court as a barrister and may also practise as a solicitor. They tend to be engaged in commercial and criminal litigation.   

       A solicitor may practise in any field of law they wish, though they usually specialise in just one or two. The reason for that is simple. Federal legislation in Australia runs to about 94,000 pages at the moment. That's separate to the many thousands of pages of state legislation developed by the seven states and territories.   

       There are also solicitors who specialise in international legislation.
UnaBubba, Jun 02 2012

       Does state legislation differ as much in Australia as in the US, and hold as much significance over federal legislation? Here, federal law seems to mean almost nothing unless the case falls directly under federal jurisdiction.
Alterother, Jun 02 2012

       I was going to say something about piranha, but I'm guessing they would be redundant in the pool..
not_morrison_rm, Sep 03 2012


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