Prosecutorial Misconduct
Professor James R. Elkins College of Law
West Virginia University|Spring|2012|



Internet Resources

John Kroger's Book

Prosecutorial Immunity


Course Evaluation

Assignments Archives

Jan. 10 & 12, 2012. Introduction to the Course

Jan. 17 & 19. 2012. The Life of a Prosecutor

"Rookie," in John Kroger, Convictions: A Prosecutor's Battles Against Mafia Killers, Drug Kingpins, and Enron Thieves 3-124 (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008)

Jan 24 & 26. 2012: John Kroger|Mafia Prosecutor

"Mafia Prosecutor" in John Kroger, Convictions: A Prosecutor's Battles Against Mafia Killers, Drug Kingpins, and Enron Thieves 127-233 (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008)

Tuesday. Jan.31. 2012: Prosecutorial Misconduct|An Empirical Survey

California report: "Preventable Error: A Report on Prosecutorial Misconduct in Claifornia 1997-2009" || 2010 Update of the California Study

Supplemental Resources: Reading the California Report, "Preventable Error"

Tuesday, February 7. 2012: The Ralph Tortorici Film Screening

Ralph Tortorici Case
[The PBS Frontline file for Tortorici--printed out--is 150+ pages. There is no pressing need for you to read the entire file.] [To access the various files: first, follow the "The Story of Ralph Tortorici" link; at the next screen you will find links to--"An Overview," "A Son and a Brother," "A Well-Documented History of Mental Illness," "Letter to Prosecution from Dr. Lawrence Siegel," "The Defense's Summation," "The Prosecution's Summation," "Interviews." Following each of these links you will find, in some instances, still further links.]

For class, please read:

Cheryl Coleman (Prosecutor) Interview

Larry Wiest (Prosecutor) Interview

Trial Court Judge Larry Rosen Interview

Tuesday, February 14. 2012: Rolando Cruz & the Jeanine Nicarico Case

Screening: "Presumed Guilty"

[The case of Rolando Cruz and Alex Hernandez, who were sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a young girl, Jeanine Nicarico, a crime they did not commit.] ["American Justice" series, on A& E, hosted by Bill Kurtis] [Transcipt of the film] [Thomas Knight was the assistant State's Attorney who prosecuted Rolando Cruz for the murder of Jeanine Nicario. Knight, with two other DuPage County prosecutors, and four sheriff's deputies were charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and conspiracy to commit official misconduct, in 1999. Los Angeles Times, April 7, 1999. Knight, fellow prosecutors, and police were acquitted of the criminal charges. World Socialist Web Site, June 16, 1999.] [Knight, charged with obstruction of justice in the Rolando Cruz case won an acquittal and sued Maurice Possley and his employer, the Chicago Tribune, accusing them of defamation. Knight did not prevail in his defamation action. See, Knight v. Chicago Tribune Co. (Appellate Court of Illinois, 2008)]

Assigned Reading: Murder Case Became a Test of Conscience Inside the System

Rolando Cruz: Web Resources

Tuesday, February 21, 2012: The Short-Lived Tenure of a Durham, North Carolina DA: Tracey Cline

Xeroxed Materials (news accounts): Tracey Cline

Web Resources: Tracey Cline: Durham, North Carolina DA

Thursday, February 23, 2012: Tracey Cline cont'd

Review: Selected News videos; continue discussion of the Tracey Cline case

Thursday, March 1, 2012: Closing Arguments in the Tracey Cline Hearing: Tracey Cline.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012: Tracey Cline Removal Inquiry (Closing Arguments)

Judge Hobgood entered a decision and order removing Tracey Cline from office on March 2nd. Tracey Cline was served with the order removing her from office and she is, now, no longer DA of Durham, North Carolina.

Judge Hobgood Reads His Decision and Order Removing Tracey Cline From Office as Durham, North Carolina District Attorney
WRAL video of hearing: 59:27 mins. March 2, 2012

Judge Hobgood's Dismissal Ruling
Filed, March 2, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012: Mike Nifong|Duke Lacrosse Case

Packet of Xeroxed Material (news accounts): Mike Nifong Case

Web Resources: Mike Nifong Case

Accounts of the Mike Nifong case:

Duke Lacrosse Case -- Wikipedia [a copy of the Wikipedia account

Robert J. Luck & Michael L. Seigel, "The Facts and Only the Facts" in Michael L. Seigel (ed.), Race to Injustice: Lessons Learned from the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case 27 (Durham, North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press, 2008)

Angela J. Davis, "When Good Prosecutors Go Bad: From Prosecutorial Discretion to Prosectorial Misconduct," in Howard M. Wasserman (ed.), Institutional Failures: Duke Lacrosse, universities, the News media, and the Legal System 23-42 (Ashgate, 2010)

Recommended Supplemental Reading (an excellent, if overly long account, of the Duke Lacross case and Mike Nifong's prosectuorial misconduct): Stuart Taylor, Jr. & KC Johnson, Until Proven Innocent; Political Correctness and the Shaeful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case (New York: St. Martin's Griffin Edition, 2008)

Thursday, March 8, 2012: Mike Nifong|Duke Lacrosse Case

Packet of Xeroxed Material (news accounts): Mike Nifong Case

Web Resources (for perusal): Mike Nifong Case

Thursday, March 15, 2012: Mike Nifong (Opening Statements in the NC Bar proceedings against Nifong)cont'd)

Nifong's Bar Hearing: June 13-16, 2007

Web Resources: Mike Nifong Case

Tuesday, March 20, 2012: Prosecutorial Immunity: Supreme Court Cases

Supreme Court|Prosecutorial Immunity cases (Imbler v. Pachtman, Burns v. Reed, Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, Kalina v. Fletcher, Van de Kamp v. Goldstein, Connick v. Thompson

Supreme Court Oral Argument: Imbler v . Pachtman

Supreme Court Oral Argument: Burns v. Reed

Supreme Court Oral Argument: Buckley v. Fitzsimmons

Supreme Court Oral Argument: Kalina v. Fletcher

Supreme Court Oral Argument: Van de Kamp v. Goldstein

Supreme Court Oral Argument: Connick v. Thompson

Supreme Court Oral Argument Pottawattamie County v. McGhee

Pottawattamie was argued in 2009 amd was dismissed after the parties reached a settlement following oral argument. The questioned presented in Pottawattamie County was: "Whether a prosecutor is subject to personal liability under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for a wrongful conviction and incarceration where the prosecutor allegedly procured false testimony during the criminal investigation and then introduced that same testimony against the criminal defendant at trial to obtain a conviction."

Bibliography for Supplemental Reading: Lesley E. Williams, The Civil Regulation of Prosecutors, 67 Fordham L. Rev. 3441 (1999) [on-line text]; Margaret Z. Johns, Unsupportable and Unjustified: A Critique of Absolute Prosecutorial Immunity, 80 Fordham L. Rev. 509 (2011) [on-line text];

Thursday, March 22, 2012: Prosecutorial Oversight

David Keenan,, The Myth of Prosecutorial Accountability After Connick v. Thompson: Why Existing Porofessional Responsibility Measures Cannot Protect Against Prosecutorial Misconduct, 121 Yale L.J. Online 203 (2010)

Supplementary Reading: Joel B. Rudin, The Supreme Court Assumes Errant Prosecutors Will be Disciplined By Their Offices or the Bar: Three Case Studies That Prove That Assumption Wrong, 80 Fordham L. Rev. 537 (2011) [on-line text]

Prosecutorial Oversight [selected segments of video of press conference to be shown in class] Press Conference, October 27, 2011. 71:33 mins. The launch of a nationwide tour and national dialogue in the wake of Connick v. Thompson.

March 27 & March 29, 2012: Spring Break|No Classes

Tuesday, April 3, 2012: Civil Actions Against Prosecutors (and Others) for Misconduct

Readings: Sam Kamin, "Duke Lacrosse, Prosecutorial Misconduct, and the Limits of the Civil Justice System," in Howard M. Wasserman (ed.), Institutional Failures: Duke Lacrosse, Universities, the News Media, and the Legal System 43-64 (United Kingdom: Ashgate, 2010) [xerox copy provided to you]

Duke Lacrosse Civil Complaint [xerox copy provided to you] [on-line text]

Supplemental Reading

Memorandum Opinion, District Court, Middle District of North Carolina, in Evans, v. The City of Curham, North Carolina, [on-line text]

The Civil Suit Arising Out of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case: How It Illustrates the Limits of Civil Rights Litigation Even When Serious Wrongs Have Been Done

Tuesday, April 10, 2012: Michael Morton Case

Xexored Packet: Newspaper accounts and Barry Scheck "Report to the Court"

Michael Morton Case: Web Resources

Review Videos [in-class]: Videos

Tuesday, April 17, 2012: Anthony Graves Case

Xexored Packet (newspaper accounts, narratives, and court documents)(provided to you earlier in the semester)

Anthony Graves Case: Web Resources