The March 21 editorial “Getting prosecutors to share what they know” said that “intentional misconduct like that in the Stevens case is probably the exception.” Nevertheless, prosecutors and agents get promoted based on convictions, not by playing fair.
The U.S. solicitor general argued before the Supreme Court that “citizens do not have a constitutional right not to be framed.” The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) gives legal protection against civil liability for prosecutors who knowingly present false evidence to get indictments and convictions.
When President Obama was a senator, he proposed that all interviews of witnesses and targets be recorded and the recordings be made available to the defense.
The Constitution Project’s proposal is an important step forward, but if we are really serious about having fair trials, the FTCA’s exemption on civil liability of prosecutors who knowingly and willfully present false testimony must be repealed. Another measure to keep the government honest would be to allow a lawyer representing the target or witness to be present in a grand jury hearing to offer objections, which would be decided by a magistrate as occurs in a deposition.
President Obama has been on the right side of this issue. Now it’s Congress’s time to act.
Don E. Siegelman, Oakdale, La.
The writer, a former governor of Alabama, is serving a seven-year sentence for felony corruption.