Phillips & Associates

Prosecutorial Misconduct

Legal Guidance for Victims of Civil Rights Violations in New York City

When a prosecutor's desire to win causes him or her to break rules designed to give you a fair trial, the result can be a wrongful conviction and a grave injustice. The loss of freedom from being confined in prison is incalculable. At Phillips & Associates, our attorneys take violations of civil rights in New York City seriously. If you have been the victim of prosecutorial misconduct, we may be able to assist you.

Hold Prosecutors Accountable for Abusing Their Responsibilities

Often, prosecutorial misconduct only comes to light after a trial is over. 42 U.S. Code § 1983 creates a method by which a person can enforce civil rights by obtaining damages from state or local officials who violate his or her federal Constitutional or statutory protections. However, in 1976, the Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors are entitled to absolute immunity for conduct within the scope of their duties in initiating and pursuing criminal prosecution. Its rationale was that prosecutors could be professionally disciplined for prosecutorial misconduct by a bar association. In practice, this has rarely happened.

Although civil recovery is severely restricted by this Supreme Court case, there is a civil remedy available under Section 1983 for a prosecutor's extra-judicial or investigative misconduct. Moreover, a municipality can be sued when its unlawful customs, policies, or practices cause constitutional injuries. For example, an unlawful policy has been proven by showing a municipality was deliberately indifferent to constitutional obligations by failing to train, supervise, or discipline employees.

Prosecutors are required by law to disclose to you and your defense counsel "Brady material," which is any evidence that tends to exonerate or exculpate you from criminal charges. In other words, if there are agreements related to witness testimony or forensic evidence that tends to show you are not guilty, that your sentence should be reduced, or that you are actually innocent, this must be disclosed.

A criminal defendant wrongfully convicted due to a prosecutor's misconduct in hiding exculpatory evidence is entitled to sue the city as well as the individual prosecutor when the misconduct arises out of a lengthy history of the District Attorney's Office looking the other way in similar situations. Similarly, a court has reasoned that even if a prosecutor has immunity for his or choice to utilize false evidence while prosecuting, he or she does not have immunity for manufacturing false evidence while an investigation is occurring.

Consult a New York City Attorney for a Prosecutorial Misconduct Claim

The New York State legislature is currently trying to pass a bill that is designed to create a commission to handle prosecutorial misconduct claims and recommend disciplinary actions against prosecutors who engage in improper activity. Until such a bill is approved and implemented, however, a civil action remains one of the most important deterrents to prosecutorial misconduct. These cases may be extremely challenging.

If you have been subject to prosecutorial or police misconduct in New York City, you may need the help of an experienced civil rights lawyer to pursue damages. At Phillips & Associates, our attorneys offer experienced representation for people whose civil rights have been infringed in all five boroughs, including Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan. We can let you know whether your claim for compensation is viable and assess your potential options. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or contact us through our online form.

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