Holding Prosecutors Accountable

An editorial in yesterday’s NYT begins:

For what may be the first time on record, a former prosecutor in Texas is going to jail for failing to turn over exculpatory evidence in a murder trial. The 10-day jail sentence for the prosecutor, Ken Anderson, is insultingly short — the victim of his misconduct, Michael Morton, spent nearly 25 years in prison. But because prosecutors are so rarely held accountable for their misconduct, the sentence is remarkable nonetheless.

This case is particularly severe, but the problem of prosecutor misconduct is all too common, and the failure to sanction those prosecutors who cross the line undermines the credibility of the system as a whole. There are many aggressive-yet-honest prosecutors. Seeking convictions need not come at the expense of seeking justice. When prosecutors forget this fact, and knowingly place innocent people in jeopardy, they should be held accountable.