OR, "ONCE A "PUBLIC" PROSECUTOR, ALWAYS A PROSECUTOR"
The Founding Fathers never imagined, or saw a "Public" Prosecutor. The fair and equitable system they designed was led and controlled by a Grand Jury. This is not the wannabe grand jury of today, but the one described in our Constitution. Though still the law that "presentments" of a grand jury are the process, our state and federal governments have discarded the true purpose and means of prosecution in exchange for a 98.6% conviction rate. Such a rate of conviction does not tolerate truth or justice as anyone who has suffered today's system can quickly tell you....and you don't have to look far to find someone who can explain it. According to the Department of Justice, approximately 25%...one in four Americans....now have a "criminal" record.
In fairer days, the grand jury controlled the prosecution process and was especially effective in ferreting out corruption that involved government officials. Perhaps that is why the grand jury has been reduced to nothing more than a rubber stamp to give the "public" prosecutor the indictment he or she wants. They don't want 'We the People' to have such power anymore, because "We" might go after them!
But for starters, let's talk about what a grand jury used to be. It was an open affair where the grand jury investigated allegations of wrongdoing, called their own witnesses, and sought out evidence of innocence or guilt. The accused was allowed his or her witnesses and advisors, as the grand jury was after facts, not indictments. If criminal conduct was likely, a true bill or indictment was issued. If not, the person was released of suspicion.
The prosecutor was a person from the community, usually an attorney, chosen by the grand jury, who had to be fair because he might be representing the jurors or defendants in his regular practice in the future, and could not afford to be seen as being unfair or malicious.
In contrast, the grand jury of today is spoon fed only what the "public" prosecutor wants heard. In my experience of working on many federal cases, I have never reviewed a single grand jury transcript where it could not be proven that government's attorneys lied, put forth or encouraged knowingly false testimony by its witnesses, withheld exculpatory evidence, and/or presented false evidence to garner an indictment.
Former judge and U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of North Carolina, Samuel T. Currin, once told me, "Before I die and meet my Maker, I must go to every prison in the Southeastern United States and get down on my knees to beg the forgiveness of those I put there." I was shocked to hear those words, and asked Sam why he would say such a thing. In response, he said, "We lied, we made up charges, fabricate evidence, gave informants time-cuts for telling lies on the stand, falsified evidence, hid evidence and did any and every thing necessary to win."
When I asked why he did that, he replied that the system is now structured to reward convictions, not fairness. He said advancement as an Assistant U.S. Attorney was based on just two things:
1) the number of convictions a public attorney could get, and
2) the number of years the defendants were sentenced for those convictions.
And guess what these "public" prosecutors often do for a living after they've committed such serious crimes against 'We the People?'
All too often, they become judges, just like Sam did. A leopard doesn't lose its spots just by putting a black robe over them. It's still a dangerous animal and still has those spots. Judges who once broke the law for a living, are unlikely to enforce it just because they change sides of the bench on which their chair sits. Former prosecutors should never, ever, be appointed or elected as judges after serving in present day American system.
And don't try telling me the myth, "But it's still the best system in the world," as that simply is no longer the truth. Statistically, the United States judicial system is now one of the least fair on earth. We have more prisoners than any other nation in history and the highest conviction rate ever known. We have more police (18,000 separate organizations) and the greatest number of laws with prison as penalty (314,000 at the federal level alone). That is a really terrible situation, and it will not get any better until prosecutors and judges who violate our rights go to prison, or we take back our grand jury process from these thugs.
But we are unlikely to ever get back our grand jury from the "public" prosecutor, so I have an alternative idea. Let's start making these prosecutors and former prosecutors ( called "judges") live by the law themselves. They obviously are not going to prosecute each other, so I suggest we force Congress to create non-partisan elected offices of Ombudsman under Article III in every federal district with the authority to:
1) prosecute government officials who violate law or the rights of citizens, and
2) grant immediate relief to those citizens so violated
It would be even better if we just go back to the rule of law and our U.S. Constitution and get our grand jury back, but that won't happen until one in two of us have a "criminal" record. Yeah...a devolution. That's what we need. Go back to what worked and was fair.
Viva la devolucion!
Author of "Justice Denied: the United States v. the People," and "The Way Back to America: a 10-step plan to restore the United States to constitutional government."
Born in North Carolina and educated at the University of Virginia, Wake Forest University and Caledonian University in Scotland, Howell now lives in Warsaw, Poland with his wife, Dr. Magdalena Iwaniec-Woltz. Howell is the European Correspondent for The Richardson Post and Chairman of The International Centre for Justice.