Everyone should be aware of the Glenn Neasham case, where a prosecuting attorney in Lake County, Calif. was able to convict an insurance salesman for theft because he received a commission from a policy sold to a woman who allegedly suffered from dementia, but was not diagnosed at that time. However, our thoughts must turn to the overall criminal justice system in America.
Today, the United States has more people in prison than Russia or China. We have over two million people in prison, 40 percent of whom have been convicted of victimless crimes. In addition, we have 1.2 million attorneys, many who are unemployed seeking employment. Many of those looking for work are good at what they do. Criminal convictions in the case of a trial are as high as 89 percent to 90 percent. This is, in part, due to jurors who believe the system would not attempt to prosecute an innocent man or woman.
Now comes the systemic problem. A prosecutor takes a case with odds of conviction at 90 percent or higher, and the person goes to jail or is convicted. This gives prosecutors huge power over peoples’ lives, power that must be respected. I just returned from Russia, and I was concerned about their judicial system. But the fact is, I would approach Lake County, Calif. the same way. (Right now, Lake County California and Iran are off our vacation schedule.)
The prosecutors have very little accountability. With such power and little accountability, the potential for abuse is high. Many qualified attorneys await jobs occupied by marginally competent (if not incompetent) attorneys, and, as they say in football, it’s time to go in a different direction. One way is to disbar the attorney or prosecutor who abuses their position. We saw this abuse in the Ted Stevens prosecution and the Duke Lacrosse prosecutor who was disbarred. The disruption to Mr. Stevens and his family was immense; same for the lacrosse team at Duke.
So my question is: Should the prosecuting attorney in the Neasham case be disbarred? Feel free to engage in discussion below.