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Crime & Justice

Sacramento debating felony status for prosecutorial misconduct




Volunteer inmates wear orange prison uniforms during an overnight stay at the new Cass County Law Enforcement Center. Civilians were to invited stay in the prison in order to work out potential bugs and test procedures.
Volunteer inmates wear orange prison uniforms during an overnight stay at the new Cass County Law Enforcement Center. Civilians were to invited stay in the prison in order to work out potential bugs and test procedures.
Eric Francis/Getty Images

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California lawmakers are getting closer to passing a bill that would throw the book at prosecutors who withhold evidence in criminal trials.

Assembly Bill 1909 (Lopez) would make prosecutorial misconduct a felony, instead of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to three years in jail.

The main sponsor of the bill, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, writes: "In 2014, prominent 9th Circuit Justice, Alex Kozinski, stated that prosecutorial misconduct is an epidemic in our criminal justice system. Nationwide, we've seen stories of innocent persons being sent to prison for decades because of a bad-acting prosecutor placing their self-interest and conviction rate ahead of seeking justice."

The primary opponent of the bill is the Orange County Deputy District Attorneys Association. Those prosecutors argue current law allows for sanctions against prosecutors who withhold evidence.

Is the current law being used effectively? How widespread is the problem of prosecutorial misconduct?

Guests:

Ignacio Hernandez, Legislative Director, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice; Sponsors of AB-1909

Cyril Yu, Chair of Civic Action Committee, Orange County Deputy District Attorneys Association; Not speaking in his role as an OC Deputy DA.