- Prosecutor misconduct alleged in half of capital cases
- Prosecutors under scrutiny are seldom disciplined
- Objections raised to Juan Martinez's conduct in Jodi Arias trial
On a recent afternoon, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge was talking about prosecutors
She drew a line on the table with her finger and then placed an eating utensil there to mark the line.He's got a point: Whether it's because so many judges themselves are former prosecutors or just because of plain old cowardice, the failure of judges to rein in prosecutor misconduct inarguably is the main reason it usually goes unchecked.
“That’s misconduct,” said the judge, who asked that her name not be used.
Judges are loath to comment on cases for ethical reasons — and because they need to remain impartial to the attorneys who come before them.
Then she placed another utensil an inch away and parallel to the first on the table.
“That’s reversible error,” she said, referring to the level of misconduct that can get a sentence or conviction thrown out.
She put her finger in the space between the utensils and said, “That’s where a lot of prosecutors operate.”
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery had a quick counter.
“If courts are not enforcing the Rules of Professional Responsibility as they pertain to the conduct of defense attorneys and prosecutors, they are then responsible for what goes on in court,” he said. “However, mere differences of opinion as to how a case should be tried cannot be the standard either.”