Gideon's Trumpet

Gideon: Your Bias Is Showing

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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First Judge Michael Sheldon of the Connecticut Appellate Court called it "a deliberate pattern of improper conduct" in State v. Santiago. Then, in another reference to prosecutorial misconduct, a Fourth Circuit opinion in U.S. v. Bartko pleaded "whatever it takes, this behavior must stop." And Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit started a blistering dissent in U.S. v. Olsen with the following: "There is an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land. Only judges can put a stop to it."

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    Aggressive Prosecutors have gone after whistleblowers; by opening criminal investigations against journalist who wrote about prosecutorial misconduct. After publishing reports on consumer advocacy website Ripoff Report in regards to the prosecutorial misconduct in the Tracey Richter murder trial, her prosecutor, Ben Smith of Sac County Iowa opened a series of criminal investigations against myself, and people he believed to be my sources. Worse, he went to have his testimony where he acknowledged his ability to listen to confidential phone calls between defense counsel and inmates sealed. In 2013, he testified under oath, that the inmate telephone system in Sac County Iowa did not always delete confidential phone calls and that he listened to the calls which were not deleted. This would seem to place prosecutors at a distinct advantage, as this inmate telephone system is in use in five states. The corresponding power has given prosecutors an unfair advantage and rather than an investigation being launched, against this prosecutor and more importantly the inmate phone system which allegedly allows this to happen, instead I have been threatened with arrest and my sources.

    Claiming that merely publishing information that had been leaked to me but publicly available made me a criminal co-conspirator. Essentially making it a crime to practice journalism.

    Addressing prosecutorial misconduct where Prosecutors are relied upon to police themselves, isn‘t working. Investigators, courts and prosecutors operating in secret and then threatening to arrest those who publish sworn testimony which alleges to show the prosecutorial misconduct should not then cause the journalist to go to jail.

    Prosecutors and their advocates say complete and absolute immunity from civil liability is critical to the performance of their jobs. They argue that self-regulation and professional sanctions from state bar associations are sufficient to deter misconduct. Yet there‘s little evidence that state bar associations are doing anything to police prosecutors, and numerous studies have shown that those who misbehave are rarely if ever professionally disciplined.

    And in the case I wrote about, the prosecutor had attempted to help an estranged ex-husband of Tracey Richter secure an investor. The investor decided not to go forward as information available online implicated the ex-husband in a failed murder for hire plot against his then wife (Tracey Richter and her children) four months later, the prosecutor then charges Tracey with the very allegation which caused the investor to have not gone forward with the loan. A Prosecutors, who tried to help secure funding for his friend and failed, due to online posting his friend had orchestrated a murder for hire scheme, then files those same charges against the victim. How is that even possible?!

    A position that carries with it the authority not only to ruin lives, but in many cases the power to end them -- is one of the positions most shielded from liability and accountability. And the freedom to push ahead free of consequences has created a zealous conviction culture.

    Nowhere is the ethos of impunity more apparent than in Iowa, the site of Richter case. I was threatened with arrest of I set foot in Iowa. This was not only relayed to me personally but also published online. Despite making this public in reports published on consumer advocacy website, Ripoff Report not even an inquiry has been opened.

    Please keep writing about Prosecutorial Misconduct. Perhaps, a piece about corruption in Iowa.

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