Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1583462
 


 



The State (Never) Rests: How Excessive Prosecutor Caseloads Harm Criminal Defendants


Adam M. Gershowitz


William & Mary Law School

Laura Killinger


affiliation not provided to SSRN

April 2, 2010

Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 105, 2011
U of Houston Law Center No. 2010-A-11

Abstract:     
Although dozens of scholars have documented the appalling underfunding of indigent defense in the United States, virtually no attention has been paid to the overburdening of prosecutors. In many large jurisdictions, prosecutors handle caseloads that are as large as those handled by public defenders. Counter-intuitively, when prosecutors shoulder excessive caseloads, it is criminal defendants who are harmed. Because overburdened prosecutors do not have sufficient time and resources for their cases, they fail to identify less culpable defendants who are deserving of more lenient plea bargains. Prosecutors also lack the time to determine which defendants should be transferred to specialty drug courts where they have a better chance at rehabilitation. Overwhelmed prosecutors commit inadvertent (though still unconstitutional) misconduct by failing to identify and disclose favorable evidence that defendants are legally entitled to receive. And excessive prosecutorial caseloads lead to the conviction of innocent defendants because enormous trial delays encourage defendants to plead guilty in exchange for sentences of time-served and an immediate release from jail. This article documents the excessive caseloads of prosecutors’ offices around the country, and it demonstrates how the overburdening of prosecutors harms criminal defendants, victims, and the public at large.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 48

Keywords: prosecutors, caseloads, inadvertent misconduct, overburdened, wrongful convictions, public defenders

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Date posted: April 5, 2010 ; Last revised: August 21, 2012

Suggested Citation

Gershowitz, Adam M. and Killinger, Laura, The State (Never) Rests: How Excessive Prosecutor Caseloads Harm Criminal Defendants (April 2, 2010). Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 105, 2011; U of Houston Law Center No. 2010-A-11. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1583462 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1583462

Contact Information

Adam M. Gershowitz (Contact Author)
William & Mary Law School ( email )
South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States
Laura Killinger
affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )
No Address Available
Feedback to SSRN


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