The Supreme Court has instructed in clear terms that the duty of the Federal prosecutor in a criminal prosecution "is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done." Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78, 88 (1935). Yet the news pages are filled with examples of Federal prosecutorial overreach. In its term just ended, the Supreme Court reversed six of seven criminal convictions that reached it, several all involving some form of over criminalization that can lead to prosecutorial overreach. And large categories of prosecutorial overreach never reach the Supreme Court, from dozens of convictions of "insider trading" by non-insiders (now found not to be a crime by the Second Circuit); to civil forfeitures of property of legitimate small businesses never charged with a crime; to multi-billion dollar settlements of the thinnest of charges with large banks, pharmaceutical companies, and individuals that cannot take any risk of a criminal conviction; to what one jurist has described as an “epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land."
The panel will explore whether prosecutorial overreach has become epidemic. It will also explore potential remedies ranging from reducing the number of crimes, to sentencing reform, plea bargain reform, civil forfeiture reform, and more. Finally, it will ask who should take action to control prosecutorial overreach? Should it be the state bars? Should the courts be more aggressive? Or, is the task primarily one for Congress? If so, what are the most promising avenues of reform?
This panel was presented at the 2015 National Lawyers Convention on Saturday, November 14, 2015, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.
Professional Responsibility: Prosecutors Run Amok?
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
- Hon. Alex Kozinski, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
- Mr. John G. Malcolm, Director, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, and Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow, The Heritage Foundation
- Hon. George J. Terwilliger III, Partner, McGuireWoods LLP
- Ms. Darpana M. Sheth, Constitutional Litigator, Institute for Justice
- Moderator: Hon. Keith R. Blackwell, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia
- Introduction: Mr. John J. Park, Jr., Of Counsel, Strickland Brockington Lewis LLP
The Mayflower Hotel