Do you believe that the justice system is not fair? That it helps some while hurting others without any rhyme-or-reason to it all? These are common complaints because, admittedly, the justice system is imperfect. Plus, it will always feel unfair when you get the short end of the stick. That’s why its important that those individuals who are a part of “the system,” police, prosecutors, and judges, not only make sure to be impartial and objective, but also to work hard to remove the appearance of favoritism and subjectivity. It’s because of these rules that the recent actions of four Wayne County prosecutors set off alarm bells.
Recently, the Detroit Free Press reported that activists are calling for the firing of four prosecutors for writing letters of support to a federal judge, asking for mercy in the sentencing of a former Detroit police officer. It may not seem all that wrong for prosecutors speak out on behalf of a police officer that they know personally and respect, but upon a closer look, what they did is questionable.
First of all, it just looks hypocritical when prosecutors, who regularly prosecute alleged drug dealers, write a letter in defense of a narcotics police officer who was convicted in federal court of conspiring with drug dealers to make money. What’s more shocking is that they asked for probation when the feds pursued 20 years. Add to it that they did not simply offering character references; they actually challenged the evidence in the case and accussed the federal government of improper prosecution. It would be one thing if, as individuals, they wrote to ask for leniency for their friend and colleague, but what essentially did was use the weight of their office to challenge the legitimacy of the federal government’s case.
Now maybe this was an honest mistake; understandably emotional about their friend being convicted, perhaps they wrote these letters without considering the ethical issues. Well, that’s why the second unwritten rule exists: to work hard to remove the appearance of favoritism and subjectivity. After all, even if they meant no harm or to remain impartial, that they wrote those letters just looks bad. That is really all that is needed to erode public trust in the justice system. And even if the intentions are harmless, it actually proves that the justice system actually is not a level playing field for all.
If you or someone you care about is being investigated or prosecuted and the case has even the appearance of being prosecuted improperly, call the Law Office of John Freeman, PLLC for a free consultation immediately. It could be the most important call you ever make.