The Innocence Project is a group that monitors prosecutorial misconduct and in doing so, indentifies people who may have been wrongfully convicted and works to exonerate them. It is at the appellate level, not the trial level, that judges are more likely to declare mistrials for what is perceived as misconduct, says retired Superior Court Judge Eugene Hyman of Santa Clara, California.
Appellate judges are looking for evidence to support the conviction and are reticent to reverse the decision of the jury, says Hyman. Even when an appellate court reverses a decision, at least in California, it doesn't automatically mean that the appellate court is going to send the decision to the state bar for consideration of disciplinary action against the district attorney, notes Hyman.
Hyman says that the most common prosecutorial misconduct is inappropriate argument, where the D.A. by argument suggests that the defendant had enough time to explain and chose not to. However, that would be in violation of the defendant's 5th Amendment right not to testify, adds Hyman.
Another example of misconduct is when the D.A. doesn't disclose the defendant's complete criminal record with regard to the crime or having a situation where certain reports aren't released if the reports are favorable to the defendant.
Having an internal affairs department, Hyman says, would bring something to the attention of the court before the appellate court would issue a decision. This group could assist a prosecutor by giving ethical advice and help them before the fact and help a defendant in terms of how a case was prosecuted, says Hyman.
Honorable Judge Eugene Hyman has received numerous awards and recognition for his work with families and children and has appeared on numerous television news shows. For more information, visit www.judgehyman.com. He is also a featured commentator on The Family Law Channel and The Legal Broadcast Network.