The persistent theme of prosecutorial misconduct, especially in cases of withheld evidence, is the lack of personal accountability. It is possible for a conviction to be overturned in a case where evidence inconsistent with guilt has been withheld, though it is not a certainty, but even in cases where evidence has been tampered with or destroyed (as in the case of Kevin Cooper, who has exhausted his appeals and awaits execution on death row in California – NBC News), there is no real personal consequence for the attorney responsible. In the absence of professional or criminal consequence, relying entirely on the good conscience and moral character of prosecuting attorneys, in a profession and a culture that places value on “wins” and “toughness” is unlikely to change or reduce the rate of wrongful convictions inherent in the system.
Accountability for misconduct
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