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The Ethical Obligations of a Prosecutor

Jamison KoehlerProfessional Responsibility/Ethics

According to Rule 3.8 of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct, a prosecutor in a criminal case shall not:

“[i]ntentionally fail to disclose to the defense, upon request and at a time when use by the defense is reasonably feasible, any evidence or information that the prosecutor knows or reasonably should know tends to negate the guilt of the accused or to mitigate the offense, or in connection with sentencing, intentionally fail to disclose to the defense upon request any unprivileged mitigating information known to the prosecutor and not reasonably available to the defense, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal.”

Rule 3.8 also prevents the prosecutor from:  (1) improperly favoring or discriminating against any person in making the decision whether or not to investigate or prosecute; (2) pursuing a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause; (3) prosecuting a case that the prosecutor knows is not support by evidence sufficient to establish a prima facie showing of guilt; (4) pursuing evidence or information that may damage the prosecution’s case or aid the defense; (5) making extrajudicial comments which serve to heighten public condemnation of the accused; or (6) interfering with or preempting the functions of a grand jury.