Prosecution Complex: America's Race to Convict and Its Impact on the Innocent

Overview

American prosecutors are asked to play two roles within the criminal justice system: they are supposed to be ministers of justice whose only goals are to ensure fair trials—and they are also advocates of the government whose success rates are measured by how many convictions they get. Because of this second role, sometimes prosecutors suppress evidence in order to establish a defendant’s guilt and safeguard that conviction over time.

In Prosecution Complex, Daniel S. Medwed ...

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Prosecution Complex: America's Race to Convict and Its Impact on the Innocent

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Overview

American prosecutors are asked to play two roles within the criminal justice system: they are supposed to be ministers of justice whose only goals are to ensure fair trials—and they are also advocates of the government whose success rates are measured by how many convictions they get. Because of this second role, sometimes prosecutors suppress evidence in order to establish a defendant’s guilt and safeguard that conviction over time.

In Prosecution Complex, Daniel S. Medwed shows how prosecutors are told to lock up criminals and protect the rights of defendants. This double role creates an institutional “prosecution complex” that animates how district attorneys’ offices treat potentially innocent defendants at all stages of the process—and that can cause prosecutors to aid in the conviction of the innocent. Ultimately, Prosecution Complex shows how, while most prosecutors aim to do justice, only some hit that target consistently.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Medwed’s discussion of particularly horrific cases of injustice and particularly groundbreaking reforms is illuminating... [The author] reminds his readers that the goal of doing justice and achieving accurate outcomes is not hopelessly naive, nor is it necessarily an issue about which the defense and the prosecution should disagree. For better or worse, he also seems to suggest that much of the potential for reforming prosecutorial practices lies with prosecutors’ own commitment to doing honorable work."-Appeal and Habeas blog

"Daniel S. Medwed has put together a book that appeals to both academics and anyone interested in gaining knowledge about many of the intricate details of prosecution."-Criminal Justice Review

"One value of Medwed's book is his even-handed, clear-headed explication of all the ways prosecutors can contribute to the conviction of innocent defendants. There is also value in his suggested reforms."-Rutgers

"Medwed engages in a scholarly conversation with those who, like him, work or have worked in the criminal justice system and understand how seemingly small legal changes can seriously affect how cases are tried, won, and lost. "-Boston Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781479893089
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 239
  • Sales rank: 989,125
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel S. Medwed is Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law and the 2013 recipient of the Robert D. Klein University Lectureship.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part I. Fair Play? Prosecutorial Behavior Prior to Trial
1 Charging Ahead
2 In the Interest of Full Disclosure: Discovery in Criminal Cases
3 Plea Bargaining Pitfalls
Part II. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt? Reasons to Doubt Prosecutorial Conduct during Trial
4 Preparation and Examination of Witnesses
5 Test Tubes on Trial: Prosecutors and Forensic Evidence
6 Closing the Door on Innocence: Improper Summations by Prosecutors
Part III. The Fallacy of Finality: Prosecutors and Post-Conviction Claims of Innocence
7 Prosecutorial Resistance to Post-Conviction Claims of Innocence
8 A Closer Look: Prosecutors and Post-Conviction DNA Testing
9 In Denial: Prosecutors’ Refusal to Accept Proof of an Inmate’s Innocence
Conclusion
Notes
Index
About the Author
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