We continue yesterday’s theme with a report today that the Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery is opposing changes to the Arizona state bar rules that would require prosecutors to disclose new evidence that suggests a defendant was wrongfully convicted and follow up that disclosure with an investigation.
Stephen Lemons at the Phoenix New Times reports that Montgomery opposes the addition of a provision to the state bar rules that would echo the American Bar Association’s Ethical Rule 3.8. The rule suggests that when new, credible and material evidence is found in a case, the prosecuting agency has an obligation to disclose that evidence to the defendant and then investigate whether a wrongful conviction has occurred. The Arizona Justice Project has been pushing the amendment for two years.
According to Lemons, Montgomery’s first assistant told the Arizona Supreme Court that such a change would be “confusing and burdensome” and that there is “no convincing evidence that Arizona has a ‘problem’ of wrongful convictions” or that “prosecutors have failed to take corrective action when appropriate.”
We wrote yesterday that Debra Milke’s lawyer has filed a motion to disqualify Montgomery’s office from prosecuting her case following the 9th Circuit’s decision to vacate her capital murder conviction earlier this year. Milke’s lawyer cites a conflict of interest, saying that Montgomery has political and financial motivations to win a conviction against Milke that conflict with his office’s duty to pursue the interests of justice.
Given that Montgomery continues to dismiss the allegations by the 9th Circuit that the Maricopa County Attorney’s office willfully withheld information from Milkie that would have impeached their star witness, and is now trying to dismiss changes to state bar rules citing the lack of any problem with wrongful convictions in Arizona, you have to think that Milke’s Motion to Disqualify may have some merit.
Lemons continues:In a county that has given us the wrongful murder conviction of Ray Krone, the extra-constitutional antics of disbarred former county attorney Andrew Thomas, and now the overturned conviction of Debra Milke, whose still-warm spot on death row was secured via the testimony of a Phoenix Police Detective with a long history of lying and abuse of authority, a rule such as this would seem a no-brainer. But not to Montgomery, who still wants his prosecutors to have the ability to hide the football after a conviction without fear of sanction by the state Bar… This proves conclusively that at least some prosecutors come from an imaginary planet where unethical behavior by their tribe does not exist.