Today the Department of Justice demonstrated conclusively that it is not capable of disciplining its prosecutors. Apparently, prosecutors can violate the Constitution, deny the defendant exculpatory evidence demonstrating innocence, and introduce perjured testimony without any fear that they will be punished. Prosecutors orchestrated a miscarriage of justice in Senator Stevens’ case that caused the Attorney General of the United States to order the case dismissed. Trial Judge Emmet Sullivan declared that the misconduct was the worst he had encountered in 25 years on the bench. The misconduct caused a jury to render an illegal verdict, which in turn resulted in the loss of Senator Stevens’ re-election bid. And, the balance of power shifted in the United States Senate. The punishment imposed is laughable. It is pathetic. No reasonable person could conclude that a mere suspension of 40 and 15 days for two of the prosecutors is sufficient punishment for the wrongdoing found in the report.It took a massive scandal and a independent investigation for two federal prosecutors to face even these sanctions - essentially unpaid vacations and a black mark in their files - while three of the six prosecutors involved faced no punishment at all. (A sixth committed suicide during the investigation.) Grits doubts any of these prosecutors have been or will be sanctioned by the bar, though even DOJ agrees they withheld exculpatory evidence. These suspensions will likely be the full extent of accountability for what happened. See the full report [large pdf] on prosecutorial misconduct in the Stevens case, which concluded that “This misconduct was intentional.”)
Grits frequently insists that criminal justice issues mostly don't fall along partisan lines and this episode provides a great example: After prosecutorial misconduct literally helped shift the balance of partisan power to Democrats in the US Senate (and nobody even gets fired over it!), conservatives surely have just as much of a stake in reducing it as progressive reformers.