The American Bar Association published a formal ethics opinion last week advising prosecutors of their duties in plea bargaining with defendants charged with misdemeanor offenses. The opinion is one part scathing indictment of the process for prosecuting petty offenses across the country and one part ethical advice for prosecutors.
Suppose you are a prosecutor and you want to subpoena a witness from another state to testify at an upcoming trial. How might you go about doing that? What forms do you use? Do you need some sort of certificate from a judge? Is the witness entitled to compensation? If so, how much? Can you pay in advance?
If you are getting ready for trial, all of these questions might occur to you, and you might wish there was a one-stop shop for an answer, given all the other items on your trial prep list. Guess what? There is! It’s a new application called NC Prosecutors’ Resource Online (NC PRO) and you can find it here. Just type “out of state witness” into the search box, and click on the entry titled “Securing Attendance of Witnesses.” There you will find the answers to every question posed above and links to the relevant forms.
[Editor’s note: This post originally ran last week on the School’s civil law blog, On the Civil Side. Because it concerns prosecutors’ roles in abuse, neglect, and dependency cases, it is cross-posted here.]
Like every other state, North Carolina has a mandated reporting law for child abuse and neglect. North Carolina’s law requires any person or institution with cause to suspect a child is abused, neglected, or dependent by a parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker to make a report to the county child welfare department (in most counties, DSS) where the child resides or is found. G.S. 7B-301. What is in a report? Are there protections for the reporter? What are the rights of the reporter? If DSS decides not to initiate a court action, can the reporter challenge that decision?
Prosecutors have wide discretion to decide how to charge defendants. In exercising that discretion, a prosecutor certainly may consider the sentence associated with each possible charge, and may choose to pursue the charge or charges that is most likely to result in the outcome that the prosecutor sees as just. But the criminal sentence may not be the only outcome of a criminal case. A variety of collateral consequences may be imposed by law, such a change in immigration status, a requirement to register as a sex offender, or loss of professional licensure. Other consequences may also follow certain convictions, such as loss of employment or housing. May prosecutors consider collateral consequences when making charging decisions and when evaluating possible plea bargains? Should they do so? Must they?
I was on a panel about criminal case calendaring yesterday at the Courts Commission. While talking to people in preparation for the event, I kept hearing one thing: that North Carolina is the only state in which the prosecutor controls the calendar. After conducting some research, I don’t think that’s quite right.
I was walking my dog this weekend when a neighbor stopped me for one of those “hey, you’re a lawyer” conversations that always seems to involve an area of law about which I know nothing. Except this time, the question was about criminal law. The specific question was this: John Edwards claims that the money … Read more
The United States Supreme Court decided Connick v. Thompson yesterday. In a nutshell, the plaintiff, John Thompson, spent 18 years in prison as a result of a Brady violation. After he was exonerated, he sued the district attorney’s office, claiming that the office failed to train prosecutors adequately about their Brady obligations. A jury agreed … Read more
I blogged about judges’ salaries here. An article in the USA Today this morning prompted me to think a little bit about prosecutors’ pay. The article, available here, reports on several state and federal prosecutors’ offices that have “hired” lawyers to work for free. All the offices in question are fully staffed with paid lawyers, … Read more