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Criminal Procedure

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The Prosecutor’S Contribution To Wrongful Convictions, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 2014

The Prosecutor’S Contribution To Wrongful Convictions, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

A prosecutor is viewed by the public as a powerful law enforcement official whose responsibility is to convict guilty people of crimes. But not everybody understands that a prosecutor’s function is not only to win convictions of law-breakers. A prosecutor is a quasi-judicial official who has a duty to promote justice to the entire community, including those people charged with crimes. Indeed, an overriding function of a prosecutor is to ensure that innocent people not get convicted and punished.

A prosecutor is constitutionally and ethically mandated to promote justice. The prosecutor is even considered a "Minister of Justice" who ...


Judicial Interference With Effective Advocacy By The Defense, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1997

Judicial Interference With Effective Advocacy By The Defense, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

A fundamental premise of the American criminal justice system is defense counsel's zealous professional advocacy. Representation of a criminal defendant to be effective must be vigorous. In administering a trial, judges have a duty to ensure a fair and orderly proceeding. On occasion, however, judges overstep the line and impede defense counsel's advocacy functions unfairly. This article describes some of the ways that trial judges may violate legal and ethical standards by improperly interfering with defense counsel's courtroom functions.


Judicial Misconduct During Jury Deliberations, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1991

Judicial Misconduct During Jury Deliberations, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

The author considers the two principal types of improper judicial behavior that may occur during the jury deliberation process. Judicial conduct that attempts to place undue pressure on a jury to reach a verdict may include verdict-urging instructions, threats and intimidation, and inquiry into the numerical division of the jury on the merits of the verdict. Judicial participation in private, ex parte communications with jurors may also subvert orderly trial procedure and undermine the impartiality of the jury. Neither kind of judicial conduct may be allowed to compel a verdict from a jury.


The Thin Blue Line: Art Or Trial In The Fact-Finding Process?, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1989

The Thin Blue Line: Art Or Trial In The Fact-Finding Process?, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Part I of this Commentary objectively analyzes The Thin Blue Line, focusing on the film’s monologues, dramatizations, and exhibits. The film's organizational structure roughly parallels the stages of the criminal justice process, from the investigation and arrest of Adams to his trial, conviction, sentence, and post-conviction litigation. The prologue and epilogue unify the story. Part II attempts to explain the bizarre judicial result, focusing on the prosecutor's dominant role in the criminal justice process. It concludes, as does the film, that one of the fundamental features of our legal system - the intrinsic ability of the adversary process ...


Proving The Defendant's Bad Character, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1988

Proving The Defendant's Bad Character, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

The classic study of the American jury shows that when a defendant's criminal record is known and the prosecution's case has weaknesses, the defendant's chances of acquittal are thirty-eight percent, compared to sixty-five percent otherwise. Because of the danger that jurors will assume that the defendant is guilty based on proof that his bad character predisposes him to an act of crime, the courts and legislatures have attempted to circumscribe the use of such evidence. Some prosecutors, however, although well aware of the insidious effect such prejudicial evidence can have on jurors, violate the rules of evidence ...