Face it – prosecutors are POLITICIANS. What’s more, they’re ambitious politicians.
Did you ever know a prosecutor who didn’t want to become a judge or move
on to higher elective office? Sometimes, their ambitions can trump their
objectivity and ethics. It’s human nature.
Prosecutorial Misconduct – What’s to be Done? A Call to Action
Phil Locke – The Wrongful Convictions Blog
Prosecutorial Misconduct: An Unpunished American Scandal Pt. 2
In part two of this series about prosecutorial misconduct, the Court Jester will present two examples of prosecutors who escaped professional punishment for their unethical behavior in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. These types of violations can be found in every legal jurisdiction. The prosecutorial machine of police, detectives and prosecutors plays an essential role in American society. However, because of their virtually unchecked power and limited accountability, ethical violations and prosecutorial misconduct will continue to proliferate. The first case of prosecutorial misconduct to be presented is that of Charles Campo, former assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Campo won three convictions of rape against criminal defendant Ulysses Charles, who was given an 80 year sentence for crimes he did not commit. An investigation into the convictions uncovered the fact that one victim stated that her assailant was circumcised, which should have ruled out uncircumcised Ulysses Charles as her rapist! The evidence that proved Ulysses to be innocent of the rape was found in the prosecutor’s legal notes. Campo didn’t even bother to even falsify his records to expunge the exculpatory evidence of the victim’s description of her rapist. Either way, Charles Campo was not worried about repercussions for his misconduct.
A second victim told a doctor during her medical examination that her attacker had no foreign accent. Since the prosecutor had chosen Ulysses Charles to be his sacrificial scapegoat, he could not have the victim declare that she was attacked by a native born English speaker. Why? It’s because Ulysses Charles was born and raised in the Caribbean island and had a strong Caribbean accent! How was the assistant prosecutor able to get around this linguistic dilemma, you might ask, regarding his person of interest? That presented no problem for this prosecutor. Campo simply stipulated in the victim’s testimony she disclosed to the examining physician that the man who sexually assaulted her had a “non-American” accent! That was easy. The case was reexamined by U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner, who discovered the fabricated evidence used to convict Ulysses Charles of three rape-robberies while hearing a lawsuit filed by Charles against the City of Boston. He had served 20 years of his 80 year sentence before the exculpatory evidence finally proved he was an actually innocent victim of prosecutor Charles Campo. Through his litigation against both the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Ulysses Charles received a $3.5 million settlement.
In his defense, Charles Campo claimed he had “prosecuted this case fairly” and “did not misstate evidence or enter into a stipulation believing it to be false.” Campo claimed that the stipulation was agreed to by both sides and supported by the trial testimony. He stated that the defense did not dispute “that the assailant had a non-American accent,” despite the fact that the rape victim declared her rapist was accent free. Ineffective assistance of counsel, a Sixth Amendment violation, accompanied the rampant prosecutorial misconduct. Ulysses Charles, now 66 years old, described the consequences of his two decades of false imprisonment. He criticized the $3.25 million settlement as insufficient for losing 20 years of his life to unjust punishment in prison. He remains bitter about his daughter’s death by suicide. “My daughter was never the same,” he declared. “She lost her f***ing mind over this piece of garbage,” referring to prosecutor Charles Campo.
Another egregious example of prosecutorial misconduct occurred in the case of Mark Schand, who was wrongfully convicted and unfairly imprisoned due to prosecutorial misconduct. Schand was 21 years old when he was arrested in 1986. Francis Bloom, former assistant district attorney in Hampden County, convicted Schand on the basis of the testimony of three witnesses, all of whom later recanted their testimonies. One of the witnesses waited until his deathbed to recant, stating that he agreed to pick Schand out of a police lineup in order to receive lenient treatment by Bloom in his own case. After receiving the case, a judge allowed Mark Schand to have a retrial. A new eyewitness denied that Schand was the perpetrator. One of the witnesses from the original trial testified to lying about Schand’s involvement in the murder as a tradeoff for favorable treatment by the assistant district attorney. The trial resulted in the defendant being innocent of all charges. With the prosecutorial misconduct of Francis Bloom exposed, the Hampden County District Attorney’s office declined to appeal the outcome. The D.A.’s office did not admit to any prosecutorial misconduct. No one thought they would.
Mark Schand is attempting to put his life back together following almost three decades of false imprisonment. When asked about his children, he said “I missed their entire lives. Now I’m a grandfather.” All that time spent behind razor wire and gun towers to satisfy the need of an unethical prosecutor to produce a suspect, who became the second victim. Francis Bloom refused to answer any questions about his career as a prosecutor. Now a successful litigator for severely injured people, Francis Bloom’s only comment about being a prosecutor was, “I put it behind me a long time ago.” Instead of prosecuting perpetrators on behalf of victims of crimes, Bloom had a penchant for creating new victims of innocent people by falsely accusing and convicting them of robbery, rape and murder in several cases that were subsequently overturned. In the United States, the tremendous power of district attorneys and their assistants has been questioned by many commentators about the American criminal justice system, but never successfully challenged. Prosecutorial misconduct is an almost completely unpunishable offense in the U.S. It is not a victimless crime. Wrongfully convicted Americans pay an exorbitant price for the egregious ethical violations of their prosecutors. Will the United States ever modify the balance of power in the courtroom to be more equally distributed between the prosecution and the defense? It seems highly unlikely, from the Court Jester’s vantage point. Until more prosecutorial reformers are elected into office, rogue prosecutors will run roughshod over the legal rights of criminal defendants throughout the courtrooms of America.
P.S. Speaking of wayward prosecutors, the Court Jester came across an anecdote about one. Kenneth Lewis, a prosecutor for the Ninth Judicial District of Florida, was suspended by the State’s Attorney’s office for posting some outrageous comments on his Facebook page. Lewis decided to include the following quotes on Facebook. He called downtown Orlando “a melting pot of 3rd world miscreants and ghetto thugs.” Racism, anyone? He also stated, “All Orlando nightclubs should be permanently closed. With or without random gunmen, they are all zoos; utter cesspools of debauchery.” Lewis had previously been ordered by the state to take sensitivity training following a post that declared, “Happy Mother’s Day to all the crack hoes out there.”