Rethinking Prosecutors’ Conflicts of Interest
76 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2016 Last revised: 2 Mar 2017
Date Written: October 7, 2016
Conflicts of interest are endemic to almost all prosecutors’ discretionary decisions, and are the source of many instances of misconduct and abuse. Prosecutors’ decisions are riddled with complex motivations, beliefs, and interests that potentially divert them from their duty to do justice. Understood as any personal belief or interest that could interfere with the prosecutors’ ability to serve the public interest, conflicts of interest threaten to undermine the efficacy and legitimacy of the criminal justice system. The traditional regulatory system barely addresses the problem and could never effectively do so. Drawing on experimentalism, which mandates that local actors design and test solutions to large social problems, we propose changes within prosecutors’ offices to help align prosecutors’ decisions with the public interest. Given how pervasive conflicts of interest are, our solution is, in essence, a proposal for a new way to regulate prosecutorial decisionmaking in general.
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