For the wrongfully convicted, prosecutorial misconduct can mean years in prison. For the prosecutors, there are rarely any consequences, says the Raleigh News & Observer in a series on the subject.
The law has a remedy when helpful evidence is withheld; the defendant can win a new trial. The law doesn’t levy any punishment for withholding such evidence. Punishment would come from the North Carolina State Bar, the agency that oversees and disciplines lawyers. But that has happened only twice in the history of the State Bar, says the News & Observer.
Many lawyers see a double standard on misconduct: Most believe prosecutors are not disciplined as strictly as defense attorneys, says Rick Gammon, a Raleigh lawyer who is chairman of the State Bar’s Disciplinary Hearing Committee. “If I, a defense attorney, lie to the court, they will take my license,” Gammon said. “History has shown that they are less likely to do that with prosecutors.”
The only two times the organization took action against prosecutors for withholding evidence, it put the discipline on hold, saying there would be no penalty if there were no further violations.