As in years past, the misdeeds that qualify this year’s nominees need only have been reported on or come to light in 2010. They needn’t necessarily have actually transpired in 2010. See each candidate’s qualifications below the poll.
Good luck to all of this year’s worthy contenders!
Bill of misdeeds: See here. Summary: Tried Kansas’ Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife for over-prescribing pain medication. Tried to deny them access to a public defender, while also targeting their assets for forfeiture. During the trial, attempted to have an unconstitutional gag order imposed on pain patient advocate Siobhan Reynolds. Also tried to gag Schneider’s patients from speaking publicly in his defense. May have asked federal agents to visit the patients’ homes to intimidate them. Finally, launched a grand jury investigation of Reynolds, including a sweeping subpoena that caused her advocacy group, the Pain Relief Network, to fold. Reynolds was forbidden from sharing the contents of the subpoena or any of the briefs related to her challenge of the investigation. It was a blatant, abusive use of the grand jury to silence a critic of the government.
Bill of misdeeds: See here. Summary: Turned a “tough on crime” record as a prosecutor into three terms in Congress, a GOP nomination for governor of Missouri, and nearly became president of the University of Missouri. Now works in a white shoe law firm as a D.C. lobbyist. Problem is, his “tough on crime” record includes at least two wrongful murder convictions due in large part to his failure to turn over exculpatory evidence. In both cases, Hulshof was excoriated by the judges who pronounced the wrongly convicted men innocent. In 2008, the A.P. found five other cases in which there is considerable evidence that Hulshof engaged in prosecutorial misconduct.
Bill of misdeeds: Probably not the most outrageous example on this list, but Chambers deserves strong consideration for at least giving us one of the most entertaining. When DNA testing showed that the evidence taken from a 9-year-old’s underwear didn’t match the mentally disabled man police had arrested for breaking into her room and groping her, Colorado DA Chambers insisted she still had the right guy. She based her opinion on the rather awesome legal argument that . . . little girls tend to dress kinda’ slutty these days.
Bill of misdeeds: Mississippi’s Attorney General has been a steadfast defender of disgraced medical examiner Steven Hayne and fraudulent “bite mark expert” Michael West, and has fought any attempt to hold them accountable. In 2009, Hood gave his okay to a plan by Mississippi’s coroners to bring Hayne back to resume his autopsy business in the state. When the state legislature considered a bill in March that would have effectively barred Hayne again, Hood actively lobbied against it. Hood’s office has fought to prevent Eddie Lee Howard from getting a new trial, arguing that Howard is procedurally barred from raising Michael West as an issue in his post-conviction petitions. West’s long-discredited bite mark expertise is the only physical evidence linking Howard, who is on death row, to the scene of the crime for which he was convicted. And then there’s Hood long and cozy relationship with Mississippi’s unseemlier trial lawyers . . .
Bill of misdeeds: See here. Summary: Santa Clara County, California’s district attorney ran for the office in 2006 on a platform of ending what she called a “win at all costs” mentality that plagues too many prosecutors. She then spent much of her time in office fighting like hell to cover up and minimize a massive scandal in which her office failed to turn over exculpatory evidence in thousands of sex abuse cases. When the California bar disciplined a member of her staff in 2009 for misconduct in four cases, Carr fought to strip the bar of its power to discipline prosecutors. In February, when a judge released an accused sex offender because Carr’s office failed to turn over a videotape with the alleged victim that called into question whether the assault had ever happened, Carr announced that her office would be boycotting the judge.
Bill of Misdeeds: Start here. Summary: During his time as Maricopa County Attorney, Thomas basically served as Joe “America’s Most Thuggish Sheriff” Arpaio’s enabler. Thomas used his office to intimidate political opponents, had a series of questionable convictions, and indicted or investigated county officials, officials in other counties, and even a judge who dared to question him or Arpaio. The good news from last year is that he lost his bid to become Arizona attorney general, and he may soon be disbarred.
Bill of misdeeds: The Texas DA is trying execute convicted murderer Hank Skinner without first testing crime scene DNA evidence that could establish Skinner’s innocence.
Bill of misdeeds: When it was brought to his attention that county prosecutors across the state were routinely and systematically abusing the state’s forfeiture laws by keeping proceeds for themselves, their offices, local police department, and private attorneys instead of sending them to a designated schools fund as required by the state’s constitution, Zoeller, Indiana’s Attorney General and hence its highest-ranking law enforcement official, said it wasn’t his problem. It took an Indiana law firm suing the county prosecutors to finally attract Zoeller’s interest. Unfortunately, he announced that his office would be defending the country prosecutors and their routine, illegal, and probably unconstitutional misuse of forfeiture funds.
Bill of misdeeds: After the state of Wisconsin passed the Healthy Youth Act, which instructs public school officials to teach age-appropriate sex education to students, District Attorney Southworth fired off a letter to the schools in his district warning personnel that he could possibly charge them with sex crimes if they complied with the law.
Bill of misdeeds: See here. Summary: During a highly-publicized 2007 trial of two parents accused of murdering one of their children, Odom took the occasion of the dead child’s birthday to . . . pull out a cake, dim the courtroom lights, place and light candles, and lead the prosecution in a ghoulish rendition of Happy Birthday to the dead kid’s ghost. The gimmick not only helped win a conviction, it helped Odom win a regular commentary gig on Nancy Grace’s show. Oh, and she has since thrown her hat in the ring for a judicial opening.