Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bob Bregory_ProsecutorObligations

This is rather surreal. Bob Gregory on prosecutor obligations - Lawmen Google GroupsProsecutors are officers of the court and their
principal obligation is to justice. They are obligated to reveal to the
defense attorney any exculpatory evidence. I am convinced that many if not
most of them place such obligations in last place, behind winning for the
sake of winning and building a strong record of success as a stepping stone
to higher office. In Illinois they are apparently attempting to intimidate
students working for justice and possibly to avoid allowing proof of the
innocence of long term convict.

Most of them seem to forget such court rulings as these:

Hurd v. People, 25 Mich 405, 416 (1872).

Hurd v. People,25 Mich 405 - Google Search
" The prosecuting officer represents the public interest, which can never be
promoted by the conviction of the innocent. His object like that of the
court, should be simply justice; and he has no right to sacrifice this to
any pride of professional success. And however strong may be his belief of
the prisoner's guilt, he must remember that, though unfair means may happen
to result in doing justice to the prisoner in the particular case, yet,
justice so attained, is unjust and dangerous to the whole community"
Peasley,90 P.3d 754(Ariz.2004) - Google Search

In re Peasley, 90 P.3d 754 (Ariz. 2004).

Prosecutor's interest in a criminal prosecution 'is not that it shall win a
case, but that justice shall be done; courts generally recognize that the
ethical rules impose higher ethical standards on prosecutors.

Jeschke v. State, 642 P.2d 1298,1303 (Wyo.1982 - Google Search

Jeschke v. State, 642 P.2d 1298, 1303 (Wyo. 1982).
Prosecutors must always keep in mind that duty is to seek justice, not
merely to convict, "which is most certainly a difficult duty to be carried
out carefully and cautiously."

Do you remember the old radio and, later, TV program called "Mr. District
Attorney? Weekly his oath was a part of the show's introduction:

" And it shall be my duty, not only to prosecute to the limit of the law all
those charged with crimes within this country, but to defend with equal
vigor the rights and privileges of all its citizens."

Those were the good old days (on radio and TV, that is).

Prosecutors Turn Tables on Student Journalists


Published: October 24, 2009

EVANSTON, Ill. - For more than a decade, classes of students at Northwestern
stern_university/index.html?inline=nyt-org> 's journalism school have been
scrutinizing the work of prosecutors and the police. The investigations into
old crimes, as part of the Medill Innocence Project
, have helped lead to the release of 11 inmates, the project's director
says, and an Illinois governor once cited those wrongful
convictions as he announced he was commuting the sentences of everyone on
death row.

David Protess, director of the Medill Innocence Project, says prosecutors
are overreaching.

But as the Medill Innocence Project is raising concerns about another case,
that of a man convicted in a murder 31 years ago, a hearing has been
scheduled next month in Cook County Circuit Court on an unusual request:
Local prosecutors have
subpoenaed the grades, grading criteria, class syllabus, expense reports and
e-mail messages of the journalism students themselves.

The prosecutors, it seems, wish to scrutinize the methods of the students
this time. The university is fighting the subpoenas.

Lawyers in the Cook County state
<> 's attorney's
office say that in their quest for justice in the old case, they need every
pertinent piece of information about the students' three-year investigation
into Anthony McKinney, who was convicted of fatally shooting a security
guard in 1978. Mr. McKinney's conviction is being reviewed by a judge.

Among the issues the prosecutors need to understand better, a spokeswoman
said, is whether students believed they would receive better grades if
witnesses they interviewed provided evidence to exonerate Mr. McKinney.

Northwestern University <> and David
Protess, the professor who leads the students and directs the Medill
Innocence Project, say the demands are ridiculously overreaching, irrelevant
to Mr. McKinney's case, in violation of the state's protections for
journalists and a breach of federal privacy statutes - not to mention

John Lavine, the dean of the Medill School of Journalism, said the
suggestion that students might have thought their grades were linked to what
witnesses said was "astonishing." He said he believed that federal law
barred him from providing the students grades, but that he had no intention
of doing so in any case..

A spokeswoman for Anita Alvarez, the Cook County state's attorney, who was
elected last fall, said the prosecutors were simply trying to get to the
bottom of the McKinney case.

"At the end of the day, all we're seeking is the same thing these students
are: justice and truth," said Sally Daly, the spokeswoman. She said the
prosecutors wished to see all statements the students received from
witnesses, whether they supported or contradicted the notion of Mr.
McKinney's innocence.

"We're not trying to delve into areas of privacy or grades," Ms. Daly said.
"Our position is that they've engaged in an investigative process, and
without any hostility, we're seeking to get all of the information they've
developed, just as detectives and investigators turn over."

If the courts find that Mr. Protess and the journalism school must turn over
the student information, they risk being held in contempt if they refuse,
said Dick O'Brien, a lawyer who is representing Northwestern.

But if the school gives in to such a demand, say advocates of the Medill
Innocence Project and more than 50 similar projects
<> (most involving law schools
and legal clinics), the stakes could be still higher, discouraging students
from taking part or forcing groups to devote time and money to legal

"Every time the government starts attacking the messenger as opposed to the
message, it can have a chilling effect," said Barry C. Scheck, a pioneer of
the Innocence Project in New York, who said he had never seen a similar
demand from prosecutors.

In October 2003, Mr. Protess's investigative journalism classes began
looking at the case after Mr. McKinney's brother, Michael, brought it to the
attention of the Medill Innocence Project - one of more 15,000 cases the
project has been asked to consider investigating over the years.

Mr. Protess, who has been on the faculty at Northwestern since 1981 and
began leading his investigative reporting students on such cases in 1991,
created the Medill project in 1999, the same year he and his students drew
national attention for helping to exonerate and free Anthony Porter, an
inmate who had come within two days of execution.

The McKinney case took three years and nine teams of student reporters, all
of whom have since graduated from Northwestern. In the end, the teams
concluded that Mr. McKinney had been wrongly convicted of killing Donald
Lundahl, a security guard, with a shotgun one evening in September 1978 in
Harvey, a southern suburb of Chicago.

The students said they had found, among other things, that two eyewitnesses
had recanted their testimony against Mr. McKinney and could not have seen
him commit the killing because they were watching a boxing championship
(Leon Spinks vs. Muhammad Ali). The students collected an affidavit from a
gang member who, they say, confirmed Mr. McKinney's alibi that he was
running away from gang members when the shooting took place.

The students have also suggested alternative suspects in the case and
offered witnesses who said they had heard the others admit their

In 2006, the students took their findings to the Center for
<> Wrongful Convictions at
Northwestern's law school, and by late last year, the claims were being
considered by a Cook County Circuit Court judge and were described in an
article in The Chicago Sun-Times <> and
on the Medill <> Innocence Project
Web site.


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