Prosecutorial Misconduct - Don't Put Your Eggs in One Basket

Too many criminal defense lawyers bank that claims of prosecutorial misconduct will result in a dismissal of their client's charges. Too many clients really believe that advice.

Prosecutorial misconduct is not a defense to criminal charges. When prosecutors act with some type of grave impropriety, such as lying to the court or deliberately hiding exculpatory evidence (known as Brady material), that's another story. But true instances of prosecutorial misconduct are rare.

Many criminal defense attorneys routinely throw out claims of prosecutorial misconduct toward the adversaries in what amounts to mud-slinging contests. Judges have become immune to such claims, particularly when it's the same attorneys making the claims again and again, oftentimes with little or no substance. It's like the little boy who cried wolf. The judges just ignore them. The problem is that the one time the wolf actually shows up, and true prosecutorial misconduct occurs, it falls on deaf judicial ears.

Some defense attorneys think that zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients means throwing every turd at the wall that you can find, in hopes that something will stick. But that's like playing checkers. I prefer to play chess - grand master style.

The reality is that most prosecutors are decent, ethical, and hard working - just as are most defense attorneys. But there are always a select few - on both sides of the aisle - that push the envelope and compromise the integrity of the justice system. Judges know that and don't appreciate the personal attacks between attorneys, even if they are veiled in the name of prosecutorial misconduct.

Again, there is a time and place for everything. Some time ago, a prosecutor hid exculpatory DNA results from me (I only found out through hard work and digging). In over 25 years of being a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer, I can say that this was one of the few instances of real prosecutorial misconduct which I have cried foul on, and which I can count on one hand. The judge came unhinged and my client walked; but it was deserved.

If your entire defense is based on prosecutorial misconduct, you've got problems. Knowing how the court's look at such claims and the rarity of its legitimate occurrence, it's like putting all of your eggs in one basket. Don't be fooled by hype and bluster, the only real way to aggressively defend yourself against serious criminal charges in Phoenix, or elsewhere in Arizona state and federal courts, is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Sure that Hail Mary works once in a great while, but more often it's intercepted and run back for a touchdown.

Are you facing a serious crime? Contact Jason Lamm for reliable legal counsel.

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