Opinion by C J Oakes
I hate corruption. Cannot stand it. Sure, we all make mistakes and no one is perfect, but when someone intentionally fails to do their sworn duty, that is different. That is abhorrent. Corruption and misconduct on the part of elected officials and representatives of our government should be offensive to the highest degree to us all. As Americans, our Founding Fathers made a clean break from a corrupt and foul demon of a nation under the direction of King George III. Are we to now sit back and allow corruption to rival his today? I think not.
Prosecutors Continue to Sit on Evidence for Feathers
The New York Times recently reported on the case of Noura Jackson. The young woman was wrongfully convicted of killing her mother in 2005. The case was unanimously overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2014 based on evidence the prosecution had in its possession but failed to make available to the defense. She was finally released in 2016. In fact, there was no direct evidence that Ms. Jackson committed the crime and all DNA evidence at the scene pointed away from her. She was convicted based on the misrepresentations of the chief prosecutor, Amy Weirich.
The NY Times piece is not just about the Jackson case and the travesty of justice performed by Weirich. In it, writer Emily Bazelon presents a brief but clear history of why the state is required to release all evidence to the defense. She explains how the law requires prosecutors to do so, but how numerous studies have demonstrated the failure of many to comply. She cites “the National Registry of Exonerations reported that 70 of the 166 exonerations in 2016 involved government misconduct, which most frequently entailed the withholding of evidence.”
The problem is that the legal requirement to turn over states evidence is based on the 1963 Supreme Court case, Brady v. Maryland. In other words, it is Common Law, law established by precedent. Because there is no codified requirement that prosecutors turn over evidence which could exonerate a defendant, they are free to do as they will — there are no penalties.
So, in order to stick another feather in their cap, some prosecutors, perhaps half by some estimates, sit on exculpatory information. In so doing, they are knowingly prosecuting innocent people while at the same time allowing the guilty to remain free to rape, pillage, and kill society even more. This is disgusting and should be remedied now.
Pass a Law to Reflect the Common Law Brady Decision
The solution is simple. In each state or even on a Federal level, we need to force prosecutors hands. It is my opinion that when someone commits a wrong, harms another person directly, they should pay for the crime. Call me crazy, but that should apply to prosecutors as well.
For what the Tennessee Supreme Court called “a ‘flagrant violation’ of Noura’s constitutional rights,” Amy Weirich eventually became the first female District Attorney of Shelby County, Tennessee (Memphis). Some expect her to become Governor one day.
Personally, I think she should be disbarred in imprisoned. She should serve the same time that Noura Jackson had to serve. She should have every case she ever prosecuted examined and if further miscarriages of justice are found, she should assume the penalties she imposed. THAT should be the law.
And that is what we are proposing here at Criminal Justice Law International.
We have started a petition at Change.org to convince the United States Congress to pass a law to Prosecute Prosecutors who Harm the Innocent because of Misconduct. Please visit and sign the Petition here. And don’t forget to share it with friends. The more signatures this petition receives, the more secure our communities will be.
We must put a stop to prosecutorial misconduct. We must stop caring how many feathers a prosecutor has in his or her cap. When they convict an innocent, that means a guilty person remains at large to continue killing our friends and neighbors. This must stop and the only way to make it stop is to hold prosecutors directly and personally accountable. Please sign the petition today.