I've probably always been more pro-defense attorney than most. Much of that has to do with my Second Amendment background. As an advocate of the right to keep and bear arms, I'm aware that there are over 20,000 guns on the books. There are several very tricky laws on Michigan's books. The worst one was luckily repealed thanks to the Vear law. Before Vear, it was illegal for anyone driving a car/trunk without a trunk to transport a pistol anywhere except to the range of which the individual was a member. Taking your pistol to the sheriff's office for a so-called "safety inspection" was actually a felony unless the pistol was in a trunk. Now it was almost never enforced, but it was on the books, and a couple of cops (MSP) in Jackson County did enforce that on a thought to be law abiding citizen coming home from a shooting competition. He lost his guns. The Prosecutor (now a judge I believe) at the time did not prosecute and actually tried to help the citizen get his guns back. The judge sympathized, but had to follow the law. (Wasn't argued on 2nd amendment grounds) The point there is that there are a lot of tricky laws and the discretion used is important when voting for a prosecutor/district attorney.
The worst prosecutor I've ever come across is Mike Nifong of Durham County, North Carolina. Durham, NC is the home of Duke University and also where three Duke LaCrosse players were charged with rape. The case is all over the news and it turned out these players were obviously innocent (through DNA evidence).
I'm not going to rehash the whole case here, but I'm going to concentrate on the worst aspect - the conduct of Mike Nifong, the district attorney. His action were so contemptable, that he was recently disbarred in North Carolina as an attorney. He lost his law license.
Nifong made several unprofessional remarks early in the case against the accused violating ethics codes. He did not discuss the alledged assault with the victum before filing charges. The worst part was discovery. Prosecutors are required to give evidence to the defense. Nifong refused to give the DNA test results to the defense. He withheld favorable evidence for the defense.
This was all due to politics. Nifong was one term away from getting a nice pension. He was appointed DA when the then-DA took another job. He then was up for election in 2006. Durham County is a 68% Kerry County, almost as democrat as Wayne County. The primary is the election there, and Nifong had to win the primary. Durham County is also 38% black. Throw in the fact that many of the whites are probably Duke students who are likely registered in New York and elsewhere instead, and Nifong needs to get the black vote to win. Nifong (a white guy) played the race card in this case, while it was still ongoing to win his election and finish his career.
In the end, the Duke lacrosse players were lucky. Damn lucky. They were lucky in that their families had money and that their families believed them and hired some of the best attorneys around to defend them. Most of us couldn't afford the bigtime attorneys that these individuals were able to afford. If the accused was a poor white guy from inland North Michigan, a black man from Detroit, or a Tejano from McAllen, TX, would the case turn out different? Would Nifong make a name for himself at their expense?
The sad question for all of us is this. How many more Mike Nifongs are out there? How many other times did Mike Nifong do this? How many district attorneys and prosecutors want to make a name for themselves as the expense of justice. Most prosecutors are not Mike Nifongs, but we need to be vigilant for the ones who are. Mike Nifong is infamous since he was caught.
Lastly, we all are innocent till proven guilty.