Prosecutors are rarely held accountable for misconduct, a New York attorney who won a $5 million wrongful conviction settlement charges.
Attorney Joel Rudin said his investigation uncovered dozens of cases of prosecutorial misconduct in the Bronx district attorney’s office that did not result in disciplinary action.
Rudin said his review of appellate decisions showed that judges had cited prosecutors for misconduct in 72 cases over a 21-year period, ranging from a prosecutor who invoked the Bible in closing arguments to a prosecutor who knowingly let the sole witness in a murder case lie to the jury, according to the New York Times.
While the misconduct was often egregious and contributed to the reversal of 62 of the cases, only one prosecutor involved was disciplined by the district attorney’s office, said Rudin, who examined personnel records that the city turned over to him. All the other prosecutors continued to get merit raises and bonuses, according to the records.
Officials in the district attorney’s office denied that prosecutorial misconduct was frequent or went unpunished.
Rudin’s client, Alberto Ramos, won a $5 million settlement this month, 11 years after he was released from prison because of a wrongful conviction in a child sex abuse case. In the 1992 reversal, the judge found that the trial prosecutor had withheld evidence that most likely would have exonerated Ramos.
The withholding of exculpatory evidence and other forms of prosecutorial misconduct are problems in courts nationwide, legal experts told the Times.