Those who prosecute our laws have a solemn responsibility to seek justice, not simply victories in court. Their duties include not prosecuting the innocent and allowing defendants to examine all evidence.
Yet, in their zeal to look good with superiors — or to have better material for their political re-election ads — prosecutors too often forget about the justice part.
That’s why media watchdogs like blogger Radley Balko are so important.
Longtime Common Sense readers may remember Balko for helping free Corey Maye from Mississippi’s death row.
Now Balko brings us the 2011 Worst Prosecutor of the Year Award. Folks like us get to decide the winner from the ten prosecutors he’s nominated. (Mark your ballot here.)
You could vote for District Attorney Tracey Cline. She replaced disgraced prosecutor Mike Nifong, who tried to frame the Duke Lacrosse team, and she’s following in his footsteps.
Or consider Grant County, Wisconsin, District Attorney Lisa Riniker. She charged a 6-year-old boy with first-degree sexual assault for playing doctor with a neighbor girl.
There’s Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who charged Mark Fiorino with “reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct” for tape-recording police threatening to kill him for openly and legally carrying a gun.
I’m voting for my local prosecutor, State’s Attorney Paul Ebert of Prince William County, Virginia. It’s Ebert’s third nomination in a career of failing to investigate official corruption . . . too busy hiding evidence from defendants.
Mulling over the list of nominees, one’s reminded that power must be checked.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.