Prosecutors Don’t Always Play Fair

The New Orleans Police Department has a bad reputation in Louisiana and indeed throughout the nation. Widely considered to be among the most corrupt police departments in the United States, the NOPD has a history dating back two centuries, during which time there have been countless complaints of abuse and corruption on the part of officers serving on the force. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the Danziger Bridge shootings, which occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

As New Orleans residents were roaming the streets, scavenging for supplies and looking for lost loved ones, the police struggled to maintain law and order in the city. The tragic incident took place on September 4, 2005. Witness accounts of the event state that several police officers opened fire on a group of people on the bridge without warning, seriously injuring four people and killing two. The two who lost their lives included a teenaged boy who was looking for his sister and a mentally disabled man in his 40s.

The shooting caused a major outrage in New Orleans and throughout the nation, and in 2011 five officers involved in the incident were convicted. They were accused not only of shooting the innocent civilians but also of engaging in a cover-up operation to hide their actions. The convictions were hailed as a victory in the fight to clean up the reputation of the NOPD and to crack down on corruption within the department. The criminal justice system was considered to have worked by punishing the guilty. Recently, however, it has come to light that the prosecutors in the case engaged in misconduct that may have influenced the final outcome.

Were the New Orleans police officers wrongfully convicted?

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported on the fact that the prosecutors in the Danziger Bridge case were found guilty of “gross prosecutorial misconduct.” A federal judge recently overturned the conviction and ordered new trials for each of the officers involved in the case. Specifically, three of the U.S. attorneys who took part in the prosecution were found to have posted anonymous comments on the website of The Times-Picayune, the major newspaper in New Orleans.

The judge accused the prosecutors of creating a “prejudicial, poisonous atmosphere” in the trial and potentially influencing the decision of the jurors and swaying public opinion. Among other things, the prosecutors are supposed to have referred to the NOPD as being “corrupt,” “ineffectual” and “a joke.” In the aftermath of the revelations, two of the U.S. attorneys have resigned from their position, and further action is being taken to correct the matter.

Defending You Against Prosecutorial Misconduct in San Mateo

This kind of outrage is far more common than people know. It may only take the form of inflammatory argument in trial, but it is no less pernicious. Prosecutors in today’s criminal justice system are engaged in a zero-sum game, and their goal, by and large, is to win cases at all costs. Whether it is a U.S. attorney or a local District Attorney, the prosecutor will often pursue a case victory at the expense of true justice for the defendant in the case. The San Mateo criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of James Dunn is aware of this fact, and he goes to great lengths to defend his clients’ rights and to hold the prosecutor accountable for misconduct and civil rights violations. Contact the firm now to discuss your case and learn more.