There is a significant difference in today’s courtroom and that fromdecades ago. In order for a trial to be carried out fairly, there has to be amutual umderstanding of the three roles that keep a cohesive flow in any trialproceedings.
Those key players are the judge, prosecuting attorney and defenseattorney. They all have rules and guidelines that they have to adhere to sothat the trial process is done properly, without any mishaps or misconduct. Ifeither of these players do not follow the guidelines and standards in thecourtroom can have significant consequences; guilty persons can go free andinnocent people can be sent away. Prosecutorial misconduct occurs when a prosecutor breaks a law or a code ofprofessional ethics in the course of a prosecution (California InnocenceProject, 2017). . Prosecutorial misconduct does not happen as much as we thinkit does but it can be detrimental to a case. In 2009 Noura Jackson wasconvicted of murdering her mother in their Memphis, Tennessee home. Throughoutthe entire trial and after conviction, Ms.
Jackson’s attorney continued tofight for her client’s innocence. In 2014 her case was appealed based onevidence that the prosecutor withheld during the trial and that the prosecutionviolated Jackson’s constitutional rights to remain silent and not testify attrial (Ruppel & Valiente, 2017). The assistant prosecutor brought it to theprosecutor’s attention but it was not introduced until after the conviction.
The evidence was a letter written by a witness that contradicted his own testimonyand previous statements. The lead prosecutor and assistant prosecutor withheld evidence that couldhave possibly affected the outcome of the trial and violated the defendant’sconstitutional rights on the Fifth Amendment. When the prosecutor was speaking duringher summation, she blatantly made a request of the defendant to tell everyonein court, by declaring in a loud voice, while raising both arms and pointingtowards the defendant, asking her where was on the night during the murder ofher mother 2014).
This move could alter the jury’s mid and have an impact ontheir decision for a conviction (Siegel, Schmalleger, & Worrall, 2011). As far as any wrong doing or misconduct from the criminal defense attorney,her actions defending her client followed proper standards and defense counselwas effective and met the criteria of Strickland v. Washington. According tothe Supreme Court in 1970, in reference to effective counsel, it says thatcounsel is effective when the legal advice is “within the range of competencedemanded of attorneys in criminal cases (Siegel, Schmalleger, & Worrall,2011). The defense on this case, on more than two occasions, requested any andall evidence from the prosecution.
Also, the defense attorney, at appropriate timesmade clear her objections towards the prosecution behavior and any damagingremarks. The biggest mistake that I can find where the judge in this case may have notdone his job effectively it could be the fact that he heard the defenseattorney asked repeatedly if there was any other evidence and throwing out the testimonyof the male witness whose letter could have affected the defendants sentencing.This can be classified as him unintentionally overlooking the testimony or not lookingfollowing up with the prosecutor in reference to the witness’s letter. However,if there were some type of misconduct or ineffective performance by a judge,improving on the appointment and merit systems when selecting a judge (Councilof State Governments, 2003) would be a step in the right direction. .
Dealing with misconduct or ineffectiveness of any nature in the courtroom canimpede the crime control model. It can make an individual second guess if thejudge, prosecutor or defense attorney are doing their jobs or are they going toreceive a fair trial. As far as the due process model being hindered due toineffectiveness, it can give jurors prejudice on evidence or even some type ofbiases against the accused. Bottom line, prosecutorial misconduct can be anissue in any courtroom not only for the victim or defendant but for thatattorney as well. Prosecutors know that they have set rules they have to go byand they need to follow them to the letter, without violating the law or anyoneconstitutional rights.