California prosecutor faces disciplinary hearing for misconduct

Prosecutors in South Carolina are rarely held accountable for misconduct – they are not held civilly liable or criminally responsible, and in the rare instance when they are disciplined it will most likely consist of a private reprimand.
Here is a story about a prosecutor in California, Ben Field, who is being investigated for his misconduct, but only after a series of ethics violations came to light. Following the conviction of Damon Auguste and Kamani Kendricks for rape, Auguste’s family retained attorneys and investigators to continue searching for evidence. They found evidence casting doubt on the government’s witness’ credibility and laboratory notes indicating the girl may not have been raped that were not turned over by the prosecutor. During the post trial proceedings, the prosecutor ordered searches of the homes of Auguste’s family and friends.
In a 2002 murder case Field is accused of not informing the defense that a key prosecution witness may have taken part in the crime. In a 1995 rape case, Field is accused of obtaining a physical examination of a juvenile despite four different judges having told him not to do so without court approval.
I imagine that this prosecutor’s alleged misconduct in these instances only came to light due to the efforts of Auguste’ family. If this family had not pressed the issue we would not be reading about this today. When a prosecutor hides evidence, it is, well, hidden. It takes perseverance and luck to uncover favorable evidence that was not turned over before trial, and in most cases no-one will ever know what the prosecutor has done.
According to the Mercury News, the head of the prosecutors union said that this disciplinary proceeding shows the danger of the “unchecked power” of the state bar. This “unchecked power” in a state where, according to the Mercury News, only 1 prosecutor has been brought before the Court in the previous five years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *