Prosecutors play an integral role in America’s inherently adversarial criminal justice system and thus have a significant impact on the individual liberties of accused citizens. Therefore, they have long since been subject to continuous scrutiny by the public, which in turn leads to criticism of state legislatures for not addressing the issue. The state of New York attempted to meet this challenge of prosecutorial misconduct head-on as part of a multi-pronged criminal justice reform agenda with the creation of a first-in-the-nation commission on prosecutorial conduct (CPC). At this point in time, the CPC has been held unconstitutional. This note will argue that instead of appealing the constitutionality of the CPC, legislators in New York should focus on improving systems that are already in place. Rather than encouraging prosecutors to be more careful and law-abiding, this appointed “watchdog” panel will merely be an ineffective use of state resources. Instead of instituting this double-wall of accountability, New York should address measures of internal regulations through Conviction Integrity Units, expand the use of Grievance Committees, and explore the idea of criminal accountability for prosecutorial misconduct.
Prosecuting Misconduct: New York’s Creation of a Watchdog Commission,
85 Brook. L. Rev.
Available at: https://brooklynworks.brooklaw.edu/blr/vol85/iss3/12