Barbara Shelly of The Kansas City Star has published a powerful opinion piece on the emerging pattern of prosecutorial misconduct in Missouri and the failure of judges or the state bar to do anything about it.
Shelly recounts the recent spate of murder cases out of Missouri that have been overturned because prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence or committed other misdeeds, including the Ryan Ferguson and Reggie Griffin cases of recent weeks. Another case which Shelly doesn’t mention in her piece is that of Paula Hall, who was recently exonerated when the state’s undisclosed deal with a jailhouse informant who testified at trial finally came to light.
Shelly emphasizes the toll that these injustices take on the wrongfully accused in contrast to the total lack of consequences for the prosecutors involved. Kenny Hulshof, a six-term Congressman from Missouri, is a prime example of a prosecutor who was allowed to ruin multiple lives through his violations of legal rules in murder cases and then move on with his career, unblemished.
The author argues, “Nothing will change until the legal fraternity steps up. Judges must report prosecutorial misconduct to the bar, which must in turn treat the complaints as the serious matters they are.”
Update: Radley Balko posted an excellent complimentary analysis of the situation in Missouri today, here.
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