6 of Arizona’s “Prosecutors of the Year” Engaged in Misconduct during Death Penalty Cases
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Friday, November 01, 2013
Ken Peasley, two-time Prosecutor of the Year, was disbarred in 2004 (photo: Jim Davis, Arizona Daily Star)
Many of Arizona’s prosecutors—including those honored with awards—have violated either legal or ethical rules while trying murder suspects facing the death penalty, according to an investigation by the Arizona Republic.
A review of all the state’s capital cases since 2002 found that appellate attorneys alleged prosecutorial misconduct about 50% of the time.
In some cases, prosecutors were accused of encouraging witnesses to perjure themselves in order to get a conviction.
Among the prosecutors accused of wrongdoing were six named “prosecutor of the year” by the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys Advisory Committee. The half dozen officials “were later found by appeals courts to have engaged in misconduct or inappropriate behavior during death-penalty trials,” The Republic’s Michael Kiefer wrote.
“There seldom are consequences for prosecutors, regardless of whether the miscarriage of justice occurred because of ineptness or misconduct,” he added.
Of the cases examined, only two prosecutors were eventually punished. One was disbarred, while the other received a short suspension.
As for those tried by these prosecutors, only two had their death sentences thrown out by appellate courts.