General Question

snowberry's avatar

How often does the prosecution screw with the jury by withholding evidence resulting in false convictions?

Asked by snowberry (24725points) August 31st, 2015

We have heard of many cases like this in the US. As someone who seems to get a jury summons once a year (so far they’ve always picked someone else- yay!), how can I have any confidence that if picked for jury duty, I wouldn’t end up helping to send an innocent man or woman to jail? Here’s an example:
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2015/08/cop_shot_himself_and_blamed_a_black_driver_police_officer_kelly_stewart.html?wpisrc=obnetwork

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15 Answers

kritiper's avatar

By law, never or rarely. All evidence must be shared with both parties.

snowberry's avatar

Yeah, well it appears they wink at the law, and do what they want. Did you read the article?

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

I’m sure they do it just as often as it helps them win. We already knew lawyers were sharks. Not even nice ones… they are like jaws.

ibstubro's avatar

I have only served on one criminal jury trial and the prosecutor literally just made stuff up, and received no objection from the defense. It was like he was baiting the public defender, and the defender never rose to the bait. Seemed to me like he stated his case and then embellished a bit and when he wasn’t called out, he went on flights of fancy. I couldn’t believe it. And the judge’s cell phone rang during testimony.

Thank the gourd the boy pled guilty before the trial ended. They would have had a hell of a time getting me to vote to convict. Should have been a mistrial.

Jaxk's avatar

Interesting story. The article was obviously written from the defense perspective but their story seems a bit unbelievable as well. The defense obviously had the residue report as they were debating on whether to use it or go last in final arguments. I’m also curious as to how Riley ended up with the gun. The residue report doesn’t prove Stewart fired the gun since the testimony was that both had their hand on the gun when it discharged. I see no report for Riley.

I’m generally very skeptical of prosecutors. In our system the defense is supposed to defend their client vigorously. The prosecutor however is not supposed to seek a conviction but rather to seek justice. Prosecutors are incented to win. Conviction rates are how they are measured. That is counter productive to our system of justice.

Jaxk's avatar

I would suggest reading The Innocent Man by John Grisham. Grisham is an excellent writer and this is his first foray into non-fiction. It will give you some insight into some of the stunts pulled by prosecutors.

stanleybmanly's avatar

At last an issue on which we are in agreement. The big problem with prosecuting attorneys and district attorneys in particular is that their job is more often than not, dependent on politics, a fact with dire consequences for those in the docks possessed of scant or inadequate resources. The inequities resulting from this fact are many and varied, and climb steeply in more rural and isolated jurisdictions in the country. Prosecutors are often granted discretion in choosing whom to prosecute as well as to what extent stretched budgets can be dedicated to “the pursuit of justice”. This is the primary reason why the rich don’t go to jail. Anyone with a net worth exceeding the budget of some backwater prosecutor is on good footing in that man’s jurisdiction when it comes to getting charged with a crime. On the other hand, with a job where one is judged on conviction rates and a reputation for “tough on crime”, it should come as no surprise that the bulk of resulting convictions should fall on those least able to mount a defense. It should also come as no surprise that “shortcuts” should be frequent when no one is apt to notice. And of course this is the lot for those throw away defendants from the bottom of society.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Grisham is indeed the guy to look at when it comes to inequities in the justice system. And no place on earth can quite match Mississippi when it comes to inequities of ANY sort.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

It happens; here is a classic case Duke Lacrosse Case.

Dutchess_III's avatar

They’re taking a serious risk with their careers when/if they do this.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I realize the alleged victim made all the shit up in the Duke Lacresse case, and should probably go to jail, but damn it! The media did it again: “In March 2006, Crystal Gail Mangum,[1][12][13] a student at North Carolina Central University,[1] had been working part-time for about two months as a stripper.”

So why in the hell don’t they ever make a note of the fact that some of the rapists GO to strip bars regularly.

If she had been, would they have bothered to note that the gal had been working part-time for about two months as a waitress/

snowberry's avatar

Thanks everyone for chiming in. Sorry I’m on an iPad here, and it won’t let me lurve anyone. I’ll catch you all up later.

The next time I’m sent a jury duty notice, I think I’ll bring up these points with the judge, along with “wrongful conviction” stats for my state. It would make an interesting conversation, but I doubt either the judge or the prosecutor would be interested in hearing me out…I suppose they’ll simply send me home again.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

That I can’t speak on. I’ve only served on Grand Jury once in my life and I really don’t ever want to do it again. The cases that the DAs were trying to get us to push through were disgusting, simply because they were trying to bend the truth and manipulate us into sending people to court that really lacked evidence to be sent to court in the first place. They, at first, said they were very impressed with our group because of how knowledgeable we became about the laws, but they ended up getting infuriated with us – and literally taking cases away because we refused to sent certain people to trial.

It left a really bad taste in my mouth and I couldn’t believe the things that they can get away with. Oh, and when it came to questioning police? Ha! Didn’t happen. The DAs always take them at their word, with no kind of additional questioning whatsoever. We had to do it, and we always got much more information that was relevant to cases out of it, which seemed to piss off the cops and the DAs.

Never again. This country’s justice system is unbelievably flawed.

Jaxk's avatar

I will add this one note. I was recently on a jury. The defendant was charged with Rape, Kidnapping, and Attempted Robbery. I feel very comfortable that the verdict we rendered was just. We found him Guilty of rape, not Guilty of Kidnapping and hung on the Attempted Robbery. The prosecutor had a good case on the Rape, the defendants Semen was in her vagina but the kidnapping was bogus. He had pushed her a few feet, to the lawn and raped her. There is no way that is kidnapping. The prosecution was merely piling on charges and that is what I find to be a major flaw in our system. If you plead not guilty, the Prosecutor will pile on as many charges as they can to try and intimidate the defendant.

We need good people of strong will to serve on juries lest the system becomes manipulated by unscrupulous prosecutors with weak willed jurors. I would rather have a jury of people that don’t want to serve than one where everyone is anxious to serve.

snowberry's avatar

Thank you @Jaxk. You made an excellent point. My problem is that I don’t think I can trust the “justice” system to provide me with true and complete information. I don’t want any part of unknowingly convicting an innocent person.

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