Prof. Berman at SL&P is live-blogging from (and participating in) a conference entitled "Life and Death Decisions: Prosecutorial Discretion and Capital Punishment in Missouri." This is of particular interest to me (and should be to other nutmeggers), because CT is currently having the same debate in the trial of Jesse Campbell [previous commentary here and here].
Overview: The conference has assembled an
amazing group of folks (including lots of important attendees) to
discuss and examine an amazing academic study concerning the operation
of prosecutorial discretion in intentional homicide cases over a
five-year period in Missouri. I view both the study and the conference
to be extraordinarily important for the ways in which it is framing and
examining the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in intentional
homicide cases in a capital jurisdiction.
The third panel is particularly interesting, because it seems there was some interaction with prosecutors:
Panel 3. Prosecutors discuss charging practices: This
panel has three diverse county prosecutors expressing various opinions
about the findings and recommendation of the study. This panel began
with one prosecutor doing an amazing job cross-examining the study
authors to raise questions about their authors’ normative commitments
of their ability to really understand all the variables that impact of
capital prosecutorial discretion. The other prosecutors in their
comments have been stressing not only how many different "moving parts"
there are in any potential capital case, but also how dynamic these
cases are from the time they get a homicide case from investigators to
the time the case goes to trial (or is pled out).
In Connecticut, Jesse Campbell is challenging the methods used by prosecutors in various jurisdictions to pursue the death penalty, claiming that it is arbitrary and capricious. If you’ve seen the data, then you would tend to agree.