Texas leads the nation in convicting innocent people. Appalling! This is not a lead to be proud of.
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, Texas led 2013 in convicting innocent people, and over the years, Texas has always remained in the top four states for convicting innocent people.
Convictions of innocent people can be linked to a variety of sources from junk “scientific” evidence to poor eyewitness identification. And while not always a contributing factor, prosecutorial misconduct certainly adds to the problem.
In New York, legislation has been proposed to create a State Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct. The idea is similar to State Commissions across the nation which deal with judicial conduct. The commission becomes an investigatory body able to review complaints against prosecutors and determine disciplinary measures where appropriate.
Prosecutors have the ability and unfettered discretion to deprive citizens of their liberty. This is a tremendous power which historically goes unchecked. Currently, prosecutors enjoy immunity for most of their actions; they cannot be successfully sued for even egregious acts of misconduct. They are shielded by appellate courts who find misconduct but excuse it as “harmless” error. They are subject to great abuses of power because there is no effective oversight.
New York is trying to change that. Perhaps it is time for Texas to take a true lead and setup our own Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct, a system of checks and balances that might hold prosecutors liable for this misdeeds when they make their own rules.
Prosecutorial abuses, like any other abuse, cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars. Prosecutorial abuses undermine the fairness and integrity of our system of justice. Prosecutorial abuses must stop.