Judges on the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently complained about "terrible" prosecutorial misconduct by California district attorneys.
The federal judges made these comments during a hearing for an appeal by Johnny Baca, a man convicted of first-degree murder in the 1990s.
Baca's conviction rested in part on the testimony of a jailhouse informant. It later emerged that both the informant and the prosecutor in the case had lied on the stand about whether that informant had received any favors in return for his testimony.
Amazingly, Baca's conviction was upheld by a state court on a criminal appeal even though the appeals judge knew about the prosecutor's misconduct.
According to the federal court judges who heard Baca's federal appeal last month, this case is only the tip of the iceberg for bad behavior by California prosecutors. DAs regularly lie or present false evidence to get a conviction--and California courts have looked the other way at this behavior.
But the good news is that the Ninth Circuit's comments on the Baca case have drawn media attention to this issue.
The lawyers at Shouse Law Group have long been aware that prosecutorial misconduct is widespread. Maybe now more criminal defense lawyers, appeals court judges, and members of the public will take this problem seriously and work to end it.