Prosecutorial Misconduct: Bettison + Edwards Author Feature Article

Minneapolis criminal defense attorneys Stacy Bettison and Barry Edwards recently co-authored the cover article in the Minnesota State Bar Association’s March 2023 edition of Minnesota Bench and Bar: “Getting serious about prosecutorial misconduct: what should — and can — be done.

Why write about prosecutorial misconduct? Because it’s been a problem in our criminal justice system for time untold, and while courts recognize it’s a problem, very little is done to address it.

It’s a problem that impacts different parts of our criminal justice system. Prosecutorial misconduct can impact people accused of a crime because it denies an accused’s constitutional right to a fair trial.

It can impact victims of crimes when prosecutorial misconduct occurs during trial because it creates risks that juries return guilty verdicts based on passions and prejudices and not evidence of guilt.

In cases where a prosecutor fails to disclose exculpatory evidence (a Brady violation), there is a risk that the accused is wrongly convicted of a crime they did not commit, while the person who did commit the crime is never identified and remains at large to commit more crimes.

There are many other ways prosecutorial misconduct impacts our criminal justice system, and the article examines those ways and proposes solutions.

Police misconduct has been a focus for years. As it should be. It’s time we devote equal attention and demonstrate a commitment to addressing prosecutorial misconduct.

Thank you to Minnesota State Bar Association for its expert publishing resources — especially its editor and art director.