The top prosecutor in St. Louis, a city at the center of national controversy over use of unfair tactics to win convictions, promised to make sure that ethics and rights of the accused are respected, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says.
A new report from the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity singled out St. Louis as a “home for aggressive trial prosecutors.” The study included a review of 129 court rulings on defense complaints of misconduct by St. Louis prosecutors. Of those, 45 resulted in reversals or acquittals, the report said. In 13 cases, convictions were upheld. In 71, prosecutorial error was found but the convictions let stand.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, the city’s current chief prosecutor, questioned whether all of the reversals or acquittals were based on the specific issue of prosecutorial conduct. She said finding out would require reading all the rulings.
The report called one former St. Louis prosecutor “a recidivist breaker of the rules by which prosecutors are supposed to operate.” The attorney described himself as a “hard-hitting but honest prosecutor” in more than 400 jury trials. Donald Wolff, a prominent defense attorney who has also been a prosecutor, said the man “was overzealous, and abused the power of a prosecutor.”