Selective prosecution

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In jurisprudence, selective prosecution is a procedural defense in which a defendant argues that they should not be held criminally liable for breaking the law, as the criminal justice system discriminated against them by choosing to prosecute. In a claim of selective prosecution, a defendant essentially argues that it is irrelevant whether they are guilty of violating a law, but that the fact of being prosecuted is based upon forbidden reasons. Such a claim might, for example, entail an argument that persons of different age, race, religion, or gender, were engaged in the same illegal actions for which the defendant is being tried and were not prosecuted, and that the defendant is only being prosecuted because of a bias. In the US, this defense is based upon the 14th Amendment, which stipulates, "nor shall any state deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Jurisprudence theoretical study of law, by philosophers and social scientists

Jurisprudence or legal theory is the theoretical study of law. Scholars of jurisprudence seek to explain the nature of law in its most general form and provide a deeper understanding of legal reasoning, legal systems, legal institutions, and the role of law in society.

In jurisprudence, procedural defenses are forms of defense challenging the legitimacy of the legal proceeding. A party argues that it should not be held liable for a legal charge or claim brought against them by some legal process, because it has been found such a process is illegitimate. Procedural defenses are built into legal systems as incentives for systems to follow their own rules. In common law jurisdictions the term has applications in both criminal law and civil law. Procedural defenses do not settle questions of guilt or innocence in a criminal proceeding, and are independent of substantive findings for or against a plaintiff or defendant in a civil proceeding. As examples: Defendants might claim there is something about the method of bringing them to be judged, that is unable to result in justice done to someone in their situation. They might claim the process is incompatible with the goals of the justice system.

Defendant Accused person

A defendant is a person accused of committing a crime in criminal prosecution or a person against whom some type of civil relief is being sought in a civil case.

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The Supreme Court of the United States has defined the term as: "A selective prosecution claim is not a defense on the merits to the criminal charge itself, but an independent assertion that the prosecutor has brought the charge for reasons forbidden by the Constitution." [1] The defense is rarely successful; some authorities claim, for example, that there are no reported cases in at least the past century in which a court dismissed a criminal prosecution because the defendant had been targeted based on race. [2] In United States v. Armstrong (1996), the Supreme Court ruled the Attorney General of the United States and United States Attorneys "retain 'broad discretion' to enforce the Nation's criminal laws" [3] and that "in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary, courts presume that they have properly discharged their official duties." [4] Therefore, the defendant must present "clear evidence to the contrary", [4] which demonstrates "the federal prosecutorial policy 'had a discriminatory effect and that it was motivated by a discriminatory purpose.'" [5]

Supreme Court of the United States Highest court in the United States

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States of America, established pursuant to Article III of the U.S. Constitution in 1789. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all federal and state court cases that involve a point of federal law, and original jurisdiction over a narrow range of cases, including suits between two or more states and those involving ambassadors. The Court holds the power of judicial review, the ability to invalidate a statute for violating a provision of the Constitution. Presidential directives can be struck down by the Court for violating either the Constitution or statutory law. However, it may act only within the context of a case in an area of law over which it has jurisdiction. The Court may decide cases having political overtones, but it has ruled that it does not have power to decide non-justiciable political questions.

United States v. Armstrong, 517 U.S. 456 (1996), was a case heard by the Supreme Court of the United States.

United States Attorney chief prosecutor representing the United States federal government

United States attorneys represent the United States federal government in United States district courts and United States courts of appeals.

See also

Malicious prosecution is a common law intentional tort. While like the tort of abuse of process, its elements include (1) intentionally instituting and pursuing a legal action that is (2) brought without probable cause and (3) dismissed in favor of the victim of the malicious prosecution. In some jurisdictions, the term "malicious prosecution" denotes the wrongful initiation of criminal proceedings, while the term "malicious use of process" denotes the wrongful initiation of civil proceedings.

In law, selective enforcement occurs when government officials such as police officers, prosecutors, or regulators exercise enforcement discretion, which is the power to choose whether or how to punish a person who has violated the law. The biased use of enforcement discretion, such as that based on racial prejudice or corruption, is usually considered a legal abuse and a threat to the rule of law.

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Double jeopardy is a procedural defence that prevents an accused person from being tried again on the same charges and on the same facts, following a valid acquittal or conviction. As described by the U.S. Supreme Court in its unanimous decision concerning Ball v. United States 163 U.S. 662 (1896), one of its earliest cases dealing with double jeopardy, "the prohibition is not against being twice punished, but against being twice put in jeopardy; and the accused, whether convicted or acquitted, is equally put in jeopardy at the first trial."

The plea bargain is any agreement in a criminal case between the prosecutor and defendant whereby the defendant agrees to plead guilty or nolo contendere to a particular charge in return for some concession from the prosecutor. This may mean that the defendant will plead guilty to a less serious charge, or to one of the several charges, in return for the dismissal of other charges; or it may mean that the defendant will plead guilty to the original criminal charge in return for a more lenient sentence.

Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case concerning enforcement of the Espionage Act of 1917 during World War I. A unanimous Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., concluded that defendants who distributed fliers to draft-age men, urging resistance to induction, could be convicted of an attempt to obstruct the draft, a criminal offense. The First Amendment did not alter the well-established law in cases where the attempt was made through expressions that would be protected in other circumstances. In this opinion, Holmes said that expressions which in the circumstances were intended to result in a crime, and posed a "clear and present danger" of succeeding, could be punished.

In criminal law, entrapment is a practice whereby a law enforcement agent or agent of the state induces a person to commit a criminal offense that the person would have otherwise been unlikely or unwilling to commit. It "is the conception and planning of an offense by an officer or agent, and the procurement of its commission by one who would not have perpetrated it except for the trickery, persuasion or fraud of the officer or state agent."

Prosecutor supreme representative of the prosecution (of the state)

A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system. The prosecution is the legal party responsible for presenting the case in a criminal trial against an individual accused of breaking the law. Typically, the prosecutor represents the government in the case brought against the accused person.

Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), was a case in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that a prosecutor's use of peremptory challenge in a criminal case—the dismissal of jurors without stating a valid cause for doing so—may not be used to exclude jurors based solely on their race. The Court ruled that this practice violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The case gave rise to the term Batson challenge, an objection to a peremptory challenge based on the standard established by the Supreme Court's decision in this case. Subsequent jurisprudence has resulted in the extension of Batson to civil cases and cases where jurors are excluded on the basis of sex.

Brady disclosure consists of exculpatory or impeaching information and evidence that is material to the guilt or innocence or to the punishment of a defendant. The term comes from the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, in which the Supreme Court ruled that suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to a defendant who has requested it violates due process.

Nolle prosequi or "nol pros," is a legal term of art and a Latin legal phrase meaning "be unwilling to pursue", a phrase amounting to "do not prosecute". It is a phrase used in many common law criminal prosecution contexts to describe a prosecutor's decision to voluntarily discontinue criminal charges either before trial or before a verdict is rendered. It contrasts with an involuntary dismissal.

Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U.S. 303 (1880), was a United States Supreme Court case about racial discrimination and United States constitutional criminal procedure. Strauder was the first instance where the Supreme Court reversed a state court decision denying a defendant's motion to remove his criminal trial to federal court pursuant to Section 3 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that established that the prosecution must turn over all evidence that might exonerate the defendant to the defense. The prosecution failed to do so for Brady and he was convicted. Brady challenged his conviction, arguing it had been contrary to the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

McCleskey v. Kemp, 481 U.S. 279 (1987), was a United States Supreme Court case, in which the death penalty sentencing of Warren McCleskey for armed robbery and murder was upheld. The Court said the "racially disproportionate impact" in the Georgia death penalty indicated by a comprehensive scientific study was not enough to overturn the guilty verdict without showing a "racially discriminatory purpose." McCleskey has been described as the “most far-reaching post-Gregg challenge to capital sentencing.”

Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution Amendment guaranteeing rights related to trials and due process

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution addresses criminal procedure and other aspects of the Constitution. It was ratified in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment applies to every level of the government, including the federal, state, and local levels, as well as any corporation, private enterprise, group, or individual, or any foreign government in regard to a US citizen or resident of the US. The Supreme Court furthered the protections of this amendment through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Heath v. Alabama, 474 U.S. 82 (1985), is a case in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that, because of the doctrine of "dual sovereignty", the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution does not prohibit one state from prosecuting and punishing somebody for an act of which they had already been convicted of and sentenced for in another state.

Oyler v. Boles, 368 U.S. 448 (1962), was a case heard by the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: "[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb..." The four essential protections included are prohibitions against, for the same offense:

Napue v. Illinois, 360 U.S. 264 (1959), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that the knowing use of false testimony by a prosecutor in a criminal case violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, even if the testimony affects only the credibility of the witness and does not directly relate to the innocence or guilt of the defendant.

Oregon v. Kennedy, 456 U.S. 667 (1982), was a United States Supreme Court decision dealing with the appropriate test for determining whether a criminal defendant has been "goaded" by the prosecution's bad actions into motioning for a mistrial. This matters because the answer determines whether a defendant can be retried. Ordinarily, a defendant who requests a mistrial can be forced to stand trial a second time, see United States v. Dinitz. However, if the prosecution's conduct was "intended to provoke the defendant into moving for a mistrial," double jeopardy protects the defendant from retrial. The Court emphasized that only prosecutorial actions where the intent is to provoke a mistrial — and not mere "harassment" or "overreaching" — trigger the double jeopardy protection.

References

  1. United States v. Armstrong , 517U.S.456 (Supreme Court of the United States1996).
  2. Chin, Gabriel J. (2008). "Unexplainable on Grounds of Race: Doubts About Yick Wo" (PDF). University of Illinois Law Review. 2008 (5): 1359–1392.
  3. United States v. Goodwin, 457U.S.368 , 382(Supreme Court of the United States1982).
  4. 1 2 United States v. Chemical Foundation, Inc., 272U.S.1 , 14–15(Supreme Court of the United States1926).
  5. Oyler v. Boles , 368U.S.448 , 456(Supreme Court of the United States1962).

Further reading

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