Yesterday, this post was brought to my attention. The post is on an NYT article entitled "Videos Challenge Accounts of Convention Unrest" and is about arrests made at the Republican National Convention. The article goes on to say that police officers were fabricating stories about unrest and prosecutors were hiding evidence.
Accused of inciting a riot and resisting arrest, Mr. Kyne was the first of the 1,806 people arrested in New York last summer during the Republican National Convention to take his case to a jury. But one day after Officer Wohl testified, and before the defense called a single witness, the prosecutor abruptly dropped all charges.
During a recess, the defense had brought new information to the prosecutor. A videotape shot by a documentary filmmaker showed Mr. Kyne agitated but plainly walking under his own power down the library steps, contradicting the vivid account of Officer Wohl, who was nowhere to be seen in the pictures. Nor was the officer seen taking part in the arrests of four other people at the library against whom he signed complaints.
It goes on with similar tales, where videotapes were doctored and then when different, more complete footage was found, the charges were dropped.
I guess my opinion(1) would depend on the complicity of the prosecutors. Were they knowing participants or merely relying on what the police told them? This kind of thing does happen in other criminal prosecutions – a prosecutor brings charges based on what the police investigation unveils and, usually, faced with incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, they dismiss or make a really sweet offer. If, however, the prosecutors were hand-in-hand with the police, that raises serious ethical problems.
I’ve heard of prosecutors who don’t think they’re covered by the Rules of Professional Conduct and act like it. Well, they are. The RPC govern them just the way they govern all other attorneys and if they have acted in violation of the ethics canons, then there should be an ethics investigation. Maybe there is a 1983 claim? What say, Mike? I don’t know enough about it. Any thoughts among my readers?
(1)personal opinion, not professional. As someone familiar with the law, not in my official capacity.