One of Radley Balko’s guest bloggers — I’m not sure which one because they didn’t attach a name to the post — writes about the various excuses the courts have come up with for granting absolute immunity to prosecutors who withhold or even falsify evidence that results in an innocent person being convicted.
The high court has justified its rulings by claiming that although individuals that have been wronged cannot receive redress from the people who wronged them, those alleged miscreants still can be punished by the system, including the various state bars and also can face criminal charges. While all of that sounds good, the reality bumps into the simple fact that government employees tend to protect their own.
After the Tonya Craft acquittal, I spoke to an official of the Georgia State Bar about the conduct of prosecutors Len Gregor and Christopher Arnt. In a letter to the bar, I outlined specifically how these two men repeatedly violated the Standards of Conduct for prosecutors laid out in the bar’s regulations. The official, however, told me that she really didn’t care how they acted because, in her view, “They were just doing their jobs.”
After I asked her if suborning perjury, lying to jurors and the public, and hiding exculpatory evidence fell into the “doing their jobs” category, she hung up. Nor was the Georgia State Bar the only government agency that has been unresponsive. The FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation were given mountains of evidence about prosecutorial and judicial misconduct that crossed the line into criminal behavior, yet they, along with the attorney general of Georgia, ignored everything.
This hardly is unusual. In fact, it is the norm. Lawsuits are the only means of redress that can be initiated by private individuals that are not employed by the justice system, so by blocking this one avenue of justice the SCOTUS essentially has blocked justice itself. Thus, in order for any kind of justice to prevail against prosecutorial and judicial wrongdoing, the very peers and friends of those who violate the law and standards of conduct are then expected to initiate proceedings against their peers and friends. That just does not happen.
Perhaps we will soon hear Justice Scalia talk about a “new professionalism” among prosecutors, an idea for which we will have as little evidence as his similar claim about police officers.