DA urges sanctions for prosecutors who withhold evidence
Sun May 4, 4:24 PM ET
DALLAS - A district attorney whose office leads the nation in wrongful convictions overturned by DNA testing says prosecutors who intentionally withhold evidence from the defense should face criminal charges or other harsh sanctions.
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said he's considering a campaign to mandate disbarment of any prosecutor who doesn't reveal evidence that could help a defendant. The worst offenders might deserve prison time, he said.
"Something should be done," Watkins told The Dallas Morning News in an interview published in Sunday's editions. "If the harm is a great harm, yes, it should be criminalized."
Since 2001, DNA tests have formally exonerated 31 people in Texas, 17 of them in Dallas County, both figures the highest in the U.S.
The state has paid compensation in 45 wrongful conviction cases. At least 22 of them involved prosecutors withholding evidence from the defense, including 19 from the infamous drug case in the Panhandle town of Tulia that were based on the work of a discredited undercover investigator. The other three were in Dallas County.
'Bout effing time. Overzealous prosecutors have been putting innocent people in prison, knowingly, for as long as the legal system has existed, in a selfish effort to better their records. It's only reasonable that we criminalize this behavior.
...and for all those who blindly trust the justice system - Don't.