Certain prosecutors in California may have something to fear as a new bill was scheduled to go before the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday, August 11, 2016, and it was approved in committee. The bill will now continue through the legislation process and prosecutors who purposefully omit or falsify evidence could face felony charges and face penalties to between 16 months and three years, The Orange County Register reports. The bill comes in the wake of allegations that Orange County prosecutors misused jailhouse informants and withheld information from defense attorneys on a number of occasions.
A 2010 study by Santa Clara University School of Law found that between 1997 and 2009, only six out of 600 prosecutors accused of misconduct were punished by the state Bar, according to the article. The researchers concluded that:
“Courts fail to report prosecutorial misconduct (despite having a statutory obligation to do so), prosecutors deny that it occurred, and the California State Bar almost never disciplines it…The problem is critical.”
The new bill AB 1909, proposed by Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, D-San Fernando, seeks to amend current California statutes where it is only a misdemeanor for anyone who omits or falsifies evidence, the article notes. What’s more, prosecutorial misconduct has led to both attempted murder and murder cases being overturned.
“As a member of the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, I believe that accountability for California’s prosecutors is critical to ensuring that justice in our courts is truly served,” Lopez said.
We will continue to follow this story in the coming months, and hope that the problem which appears to be systemic will be addressed.
Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Southern California. Based out of Orange County, Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with crimes in state and federal court.
Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower online or by telephone at 714-997-4400.