TheRole of a Prosecutor in a Court of Law
1. Prosecutorsplay the most crucial role in criminal proceedings. Unlike lawyerswho defend their clients passionately, prosecutors act in the mostresponsible ways (Gaines,& Miller, 2014).These officers of the law are required to appear as ministers ofjustice and not adversarial advocates. Prosecutors usually use theevidence that they collect to prove all the relevant facts to thecourt. If appropriate, prosecutors are allowed to present theirarguments in a manner that criminalizes the accused party. Thisapproach is usually intended to aid the court to arrive at the truth.
Consideringthe above assertions, states provide prosecutors with a broad rangeof powers in criminal cases. For instance, prosecutors are allowed todecide which charges to press and the most appropriate time to takeparticular cases to court (Hazard,Hodes, & Jarvis, 2012).States safeguard the powers of these law enforcers through absoluteimmunity. Additionally, a prosecutor can act as the sole adjudicatorby offering a criminal a plea bargain. Plea bargaining in the U.S. isillustrative of the discretionary powers of prosecutors (Gaines,& Miller, 2014).Ordinarily, judges rarely decline plea proposals. Moreover,prosecutors have the authority to determine whether a person who hasbeen arrested by the police should be commissioned with a crime, thecharges that should be leveled against him, and whether or not to enda prosecution.
Theabove duties may present a prosecutor with different ethicaldilemmas. For example, a prosecutor may have a personal connectionwith a case, and, as a result, fail to press charges against anoffender. Alternatively, the prosecutor may decide to offer a pleabargain to a lawbreaker who he is privately involved with. Such adecision may be unfair to the plaintiff because the deal may help theaccused party to serve a sentence that is not in tandem with thecrime that he committed. In the same vein, since a prosecutor isallowed to determine whether or not a case should proceed to court,he may move a minor case to court to accomplish a personal vendetta.
2. Thelaw requires prosecutors to uphold the rights of the defendants.Thus, prosecutors should be viewed as advocates, administrators ofjustice, and officers of the court (Gaines,& Miller, 2014).Prosecutors should always ensure that they exercise sound discretionwhen conducting their duties. In essence, prosecutors should seekjustice, and not act as persecutors.
Consideringthe above presumptions, various ethical dilemmas come to the surfaceas prosecutors carry out their duties. For example, an attorney mayfeel compelled to take on the case of an individual who is within hisarea of jurisdiction (Americanbar.org,2017).Such an action would lead the prosecutor to act in a manner thatwould seem disadvantageous to the plaintiff because the public wouldnot view the practice of the attorney as private work. The lawstipulates that prosecutors should not represent crime victims intheir areas of jurisdiction to prevent the development of suchincidences.
Secondly,a prosecutor should not participate in a trial that he was involvedin while in private practice (Americanbar.org,2017).Additionally, an attorney should avoid using the information that heobtained in a previous case to the detriment of his former clientunless the use of such information does not break the attorney-clientconfidence.
Third,a prosecutor should not liaise with an accused party, as an agent orattorney, in a trial that has been assigned to him (Americanbar.org,2017).In other words, a prosecutor should avoid representing an offender ina criminal proceeding.
Finally,a lawyer should stay away from a case where his personal, political,financial, and property and business interests are involved(Americanbar.org,2017).Furthermore, a prosecutor should stay away from a criminal proceedingwhere he has a personal attachment with the attorney representing asibling, child, spouse, or parent.
3. Bradyv. Maryland was a landmark case in the United States Supreme Court.This case led to the development of a law that requires theprosecution to turn over all the evidence that may be used toexonerate the defendant to the defense. In the case, Marylandprosecuted John Brady and Donald Boblit for murder (U.S.Supreme Court, 2017).Brady acquiesced to the fact that he was involved in the crimehowever, he contended that Boblit was the sole perpetrator of theact. The prosecution did not furnish the defense with the letter thatBoblit had written. The note was critical to the proceedings sinceDonald had admitted to killing the victim alone. Consequently, Bradywas convicted of a crime that he had not committed. However, Bradychallenged his conviction, claiming that the Due Process Clause (asstipulated in the Fourteenth Amendment) had not been followed. As aresult, the Supreme Court determined that withholding exculpatoryevidence was a violation of the Due Process. Although the courtaffirmed that the evidence that had been withheld might not haveexculpated the offender, it ascertained that the information wassignificant to determining the level of punishment that would beextended to the defendant.
Theabove trial led to the development of the “Brady Rule,” whichrequires prosecutors to furnish the defense with materiallyexculpatory evidence (U.S.Supreme Court, 2017).This rule requires an attorney provide the accused party with anymaterial that may help him to reduce his guiltiness or potentialsentence. Furthermore, any evidence that increases the credibility ofa witness, according to the rule, should also be given to thedefendant. In this regard, if any evidence is presented in court, andthe defense claims that prejudice has ensued, the evidence adducedwill be suppressed. Ideally, the evidence will be held back even ifthe prosecutor contends that he was unaware of its existence.Nonetheless, the accused is responsible for proving that the evidencewhich was held back is material to the outcome of his case.
4. Prosecutorshave the right to maintain a neutral ground in every case that theypursue. However, this assertion does not mean that these lawenforcers should put aside the wishes and rights of the offenders(Gaines,& Miller, 2014).Practically, prosecutors use the information that they get from bothwitnesses and victims to build a case. Moreover, the believable crimevictims can be useful when a case proceeds to court because they mayelicit sympathy from the jury. Also, the prosecutors are required toconfer with victims during the various phases of the criminal justiceprocess.
Consideringthe above premises, a prosecutor would be ethically correct if hetook the side of a crime victim in a criminal case. A wife whoattacked her husband after an extended period of abuse, for example,may be viewed as both a sufferer and an offender. From a utilitarianperspective, one can assert that the particular circumstancessurrounding the case and its consequences require a rethinking of theentire case. This assertion can be supported by the fact that anyindividual in the woman`s position can be viewed as both a suffererand a doer of wrong thus, the person deserves a welfare response.Additionally, society may not benefit from the woman`s conviction inthe long-run. In fact, the woman would be more helpful to society ifthe court subjected her to counseling sessions to enable her to getthrough the trauma that her husband had subjected her to. In the end,the victim may be in a position to help other people that may findthemselves in a similar predicament. Such an action would help bringdown the possibility of such occurrences in future since the affectedparties would be educated on the ways of avoiding violent reactions.
Americanbar.org.(2017). ABACriminal Justice Section – Criminal Justice Standards – ProsecutionFunction. Americanbar.org.Retrieved 28 March 2017, fromhttp://www.americanbar.org/publications/criminal_justice_section_archive/crimjust_standards_pfunc_blkold.html
Gaines,L., & Miller, R. (2014). Criminaljustice in action (1sted., pp. 281 – 284). Cengage Learning.
Hazard,G., Hodes, W., & Jarvis, P. (2012). Thelaw of lawyering (1sted.). New York: Wolters Kluwer.
U.S.Supreme Court. (2017). Bradyv. Maryland 373 U.S. 83 (1963). JustiaLaw.Retrieved 28 March 2017, fromhttps://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/373/83/case.html