Fatal Flaws?

By VanMeveren, Stuart A. | Editor & Publisher, May 22, 2000 | Go to article overview

Fatal Flaws?


VanMeveren, Stuart A., Editor & Publisher


There's only one thing wrong with the Chicago Tribune's prize-winning investigative series on so-called prosecutor misconduct, described so glowingly by Mark Fitzgerald ("Better Read Than Dead," E&P, April 24, p. 27).

It was inaccurate, misleading, and based on fatally flawed research.

I write as president of the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), the nation's largest and primary organization of prosecuting attorneys, and thus on behalf of America's state and local prosecutors. As public officials and the chief law-enforcement officers of our respective communities, we are accustomed to second-guessing and criticism. And we sometimes make mistakes.

The Tribune series cites 384 homicide cases going back 35 years to buttress the argument that innocent men and women are routinely being sent to prison in a pattern of injustice rather than justice. While we are not suggesting that prosecutors are without fault, it should be noted that these cases represent a very small percentage of the thousands of homicide cases that proceeded through the criminal-justice system over the 35-year period and that were upheld by appellate courts.

The series implies that all 384 cases provide evidence of prosecutorial misconduct and that in these cases "innocent" men and women were imprisoned. Not so.

The NDAA conducted its own research by contacting the prosecutors' offices involved. We were able to develop information concerning 221 of 384 cited cases. Our results diverge greatly from those of the series.

First, prosecutor misconduct was identified in only 8.6% of the 221 cases; in another 24% of the cases, possible misconduct has been identified.

Of the 221 cases for which we could develop additional information, we found the following occurred after the reported reversal by an appellate court:

In 1% of the cases, there actually have been no reversals and the accused are serving the original sentences.

In 15.4% of the cases, the charges were dismissed and there were no subsequent trials.

On retrial, 10.4% of the cases resulted in acquittals.

On retrial, 29.4% of the allegedly "exonerated" individuals were convicted of lesser offenses, frequently by guilty pleas.

On retrial, 25.8% of the accused were reconvicted of the same offenses.

In the remaining 18.1%, there were a variety of situations that include pending retrials; defendants who died before retrial; and cases in which the defendant was already serving another sentence and no further trial was deemed necessary in the interests of justice. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Fatal Flaws?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.