Vote for the Worst Prosecutor of 2010

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

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!


Tanya Treadway

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.

Kenny Hulsof

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.

Carol Chambers

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.

Jim Hood

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 . . .

Delores Carr

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.

Andy Thomas

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.

Lynn Switzer

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.

Greg Zoeller

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.

Scott Southworth

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.

Eleanor Odom

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.

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57 Responses to “Vote for the Worst Prosecutor of 2010”

  1. #1 |  qwints | 

    No Susan Reed for no refusal weekends every weekend in addition to the rest of her sordid history?

  2. #2 |  overgoverned | 

    I vote for candidates 1 through 10.

  3. #3 |  Tony Clifton | 

    This should have had checkboxes.

  4. #4 |  Kevin3% | 

    Did I miss the box that offers the option for ALL OF THE ABOVE?
    …and what exactly is the prize for the winner? Loss of job and pension? Prosecution for their “misdeeds”? Possible jail time? Loss of their license to practice law?

    I understand that lawyers think they are the smartest people on the planet. I also know that the prosecutor is a political animal and for them to admit mistakes would make them look bad in the eyes of the voters. But for the life of me, I have the greatest difficulty understanding how people in positions of power can be so bereft of human decency, to the degree that their actions would send an innocent person to jail or death.

  5. #5 |  Ron | 

    All of the above.

  6. #6 |  delta | 

    First I narrowed it down to death penalty cases — If I had the option, I’d focus on barring the state from putting people to death and work down from there. One of those gets extra points for multiple stink-fest death penalty cases, plus the over-the-top bonus of rather explicitly raping the very idea of the scientific method itself (by proxy of his expert witnesses).

    So — Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.

  7. #7 |  BrentM | 

    i voted for Treadway. i would have loved to have voted for all of them.

  8. #8 |  BrentM | 

    Hey. I wonder if Scott Southworth would prosecute TSA officers at Airports? Probably Not. I’ve noticed in my readings that in most of these bad trials were you see bad prosecutors you also have bad or weak judges. Don’t forget the bad Judges(who are often former prosecutors).

  9. #9 |  mdb | 

    While all were deserving, Treadway really had a stand out year, a hall of fame year.

  10. #10 |  André | 

    Yeah, I have no idea how anybody could expect to beat Treadway. Even Lynn Switzer trying to execute Skinner without bothering to test possibly exculpatory evidence still doesn’t have the same gut-punch power of Treadway.

  11. #11 |  Mattocracy | 

    Tanya “The Tyrant” Treadway.

  12. #12 |  Joe | 

    Kenny Hulsof deserves special mention, but I have to agree I probably would have gone with an “all of the above box” on this list.

  13. #13 |  Marc | 

    I want to vote all, ended up voting for Southway just b/c he didn’t have any votes yet. Would be fine voting for any or all of them.

  14. #14 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    It really is like trying to pick the worst rapist.

  15. #15 |  Andrew S. | 

    In any other year, this would be a tough choice. Many worthy candidates. But this was just an incredible year from Ms. Treadway. Nobody else could possibly be expected to compete.

    Congrats, Tanya. Now go to hell.

  16. #16 |  NMissC | 

    Can I write in Forrest Allgood, who at least at the level of getting caught for prior misdeeds had a Hall of Infamy year? (He’s the Mississippi prosecutor who used West’s testimony to put one guy on death row and another in a life sentence, both innocent, and wouldn’t back off when DNA proved him wrong– it required Jim Hood (one of the nominees) to set it right. He also was held by a federal prosecutor to have used false testimony, from one of his assistants, now a judge, no less, to put another guy on death row. And that’s not all…).

  17. #17 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I picked Treadway mostly because her actions affect a much broader range of people than most of the others and also because she could be setting a precedent at the Federal level. She is using procedural law to crucify someone without even having the pretense of a crime to prosecute. And she is doing this simply because that someone dared to challenge her.

    Beria said: “Show me the man and I will find you the crime”.

    Treadway is taking that one step further: “Show me the (wo)man and I won’t even need a fucking crime.”

  18. #18 |  Radley Balko | 

    Can I write in Forrest Allgood, who at least at the level of getting caught for prior misdeeds had a Hall of Infamy year?

    Allgood won in 2008!

  19. #19 |  Who Was the Worst Prosecutor of 2010? - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine | 

    [...] Balko | January 3, 2011 Over at TheAgiator.com, you can cast your vote for one of 10 worthy [...]

  20. #20 |  Nate | 

    Went with Hood. He is regularly putting up people for the death penalty just for shits and giggles. Using sham evidence to win convictions to further his career. He’s the textbook case of a sociopath serial killer.

  21. #21 |  HUUUUH | 

    Where’s Patterico? I want to vote for him.

  22. #22 |  POLL: Who Was the Worst Prosecutor of 2010? – Hammer of Truth | 

    [...] POLL: Who Was the Worst Prosecutor of 2010? [...]

  23. #23 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Our society is so worried about kids’ self esteem that in many competitions they simply declare each participant a winner by virtue of their participation. I always thought the “everybody’s a winner” mentality was lame at best and counterproductive at worst . . . but after reading the above nominations I’m willing to change my mind.

  24. #24 |  J sub D | 

    As I hold a zealot’s love of the First Amendment, selecting Tanya Treadway is a no brainer.

  25. #25 |  Reginod | 

    Hulshof gets my vote, but he was putting innocent people behind bars for serious crimes that actually guilty people had committed where I lived. And letting real murders walk the streets of my town so he could advance his political career strikes me as especially offensive.

    Of course, the fact that he “represented” me very badly for three terms may also be prejudicing my vote.

    Were it not for the presence of a man I have very real and personal animus for in the poll, Ms. Treadway would win hands down.

  26. #26 |  Joe | 

    HUUUUH, very funny. Give it time, give it time.

  27. #27 |  Brandon | 

    Treadway, for actions most closely resembling something Mao or Stalin would’ve thought twice about.

  28. #28 |  Danny | 

    Impossible to choose; simply impossible. My brain feels like it’s burning in a gasoline fire.

  29. #29 |  George in AZ | 

    Treadway. I started by assuming I’d vote for my local favorite, Andy Thomas. Not only did he have the track record posted by Radley, but he also (a) was the one who convinced Arpaio that harrssing illegals was a sure vote-getter and (b) looked the other way on police abuse. And then I said — but the capital case abuses are worse, probably one of those prosecutors. But in the end I had to say Treadway — her abuses just seem so unAmerican, and they have the potential to abuse far more people.

  30. #30 |  MDGuy | 

    I had to vote Treadway…while the cases of prosecutors withholding exculpatory evidence to railroad innocents are certainly sickening, at least there you have organizations like the Innocence project fighting back, however out-funded they are. Treadway’s attack on the right of people to organize with the express purpose of criticizing government action strikes me as far more dangerous and wide-reaching in the long run. It is an attack on our ability to ever even know or do anything about prosecutorial misconduct. The bastards already have close to free reign and relatively speaking, are still in the public eye. Imagine the circus it would turn into if the Treadways of the world had their way.

  31. #31 |  johnl | 

    For laughs sometime you have to look up Bill Kostrzewski.

  32. #32 |  Invisible Finger | 

    For 2010 actions alone, it’s Treadaway by a mile. But they’re all criminals in a moral society.

  33. #33 |  Kenny Hulshof needs your vote « Ducks and Economics | 

    [...] race. Fortunately I now have the chance to vote for Mr. Hulshof; over at The Agitator, Radley Balko has a poll up for worst prosecutor of 2010. You may recall that several of Hulshof’s murder convictions have either been overturned due [...]

  34. #34 |  Dmelbo01 | 

    I had to vote for Carr .Actions like hers are all too common.especially when it comes to getting convictions for “sex crimes”. they don’t care who goes to jail as long as they arrest and convict someone quickly

  35. #35 |  Vote for the worst prosecutor of 2010! « Americans for Forfeiture Reform | 

    [...] for the worst prosecutor of 2010! By Eapen Thampy, on January 3rd, 2011 Over at The Agitator, Radley Balko has a poll for the worst prosecutor of 2010. As you might guess, some of their official misconduct comes in the form of pre-trial asset [...]

  36. #36 |  JB | 

    No Ken Kratz — the incredible sexting DA? Or is this for meritorious achievement in the abuse of one’s official powers?

  37. #37 |  T. Reed | 

    RB,
    Your “Worst Prosecutor” format sucks (or should I say that it is “unjust”?). There should be a seeded bracket system. Top seeds should get a bye.

  38. #38 |  Lazarus | 

    What about the guy from the Tonya Craft child abuse railroading, what with the gag orders, media smears, and the little kid who said “I just remembered”?

  39. #39 |  Charles Novins | 

    As an attorney, I’m reluctant to “vote;” it might be improper for me to TREAD on another attorney in any WAY via my comments. But I see the “win at all costs” mentality here “on the ground” with alarming frequency, by which I mean something over 90% of the time. It may interest readers to know that even taking such a position is absolutely illegal under laws in every jurisdiction. NJ law states unequivocally, for example, that the prosecutor’s duty is to “find the truth” and NOT to seek to “win the case.” Of course, breach of the law by state actors is so common as to be barely worth a mention. Still, I think abuses might be lessened if folks knew the law.

  40. #40 |  John David Galt | 

    Why is Scott Andringa missing from the list?

  41. #41 |  gs | 

    Go Tanya go!!

    In both senses of the phrase.

  42. #42 |  Charles | 

    Got to be Treadway. Everyone else is a good example of the criminal and sociopathic, but Treadway is a threat to constitutional government.

  43. #43 |  CLS | 

    I think the indictment of Andrew Thomas should include his ruthless persecution of a 16 years old boy, Matt Bandy. Bandy was facing life in prison because he surfed a web group with erotic photos of women on it. His family computer was hijacked, though they didn’t know it, and used to store other images for world wide distribution. A forensic examination of the hard drive exonerated Bandy but Thomas tried to prevent that from happening and repeatedly refused to give a copy of the hard drive over to experts working for the defense. After his case fell apart he dropped most charges and instead demanded, and got, a plea bargain that Bandy plead guilty to the horrific crime of showing a Playboy magazine to a school mate. For that awful crime Thomas demanded the boy be listed as a registered sex offender for life. The Bandy family spent around $500,000 to defend their son. I hate to think how much tax money Thomas squandered on the case. And then, after he lost everything in the courtroom, his odious assistant, Rachel Alexender, wrote a smear piece attacking the boy and published it on the Fox News website. She twisted the facts about the case and made it seem like the kid was a convicted child pornographer — as opposed to a “child” who merely looked at pornography.

  44. #44 |  AZ Justiceseeker | 

    Arizona’s Former Maricopa County County Attorney Andrew Thomas bragging about his 200,000 convictions (took office Jan. 2005) during his unsuccessful run in the Republican primary for state Attorney General. Under investigation by the FBI for abuse of power, also recommended along with his henchwomen for disbarment and possible criminal charges.

    Investigator to recommend disbarment in Thomas ethics case
    http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/12/06/20101206andrew-thomas-discipline-arizona-supreme-court.html

    Lisa Aubuchon Wanted “Hundreds” of Teens Interviewed During Dale Fushek Case, Probe Transcript Reveals – Phoenix
    http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2010/10/lisa_aubuchon_wanted_thousands.php

  45. #45 |  Bill Anderson | 

    Radley, you need to give this award a name. Something like “The Nifong” or The Wade (named after the prosecutor who coined the phrase that it takes a “great prosecutor to convict an innocent man”).

    I doubt you could get Mike Nifong to present the award, although he is not a busy person these days, given he is disabarred and sitting around the house feeling sorry for himself.

    I voted for Andy Thomas, although any one of these people is deserving. However, I wish you had gone with Christopher Arnt, who led the prosecution of Tonya Craft (who was acquitted). Arnt’s boss, Buzz Franklin, blamed my blog for “depriving the state of a fair trial.” I think that Arnt is a very deserving character, and I will have to do something with him on my own blog!

  46. #46 |  NoelArmourson | 

    Vile creatures all.

  47. #47 |  Judi | 

    Maybe the prosecutor’s ‘oath’ should also include, “first do no harm…”

  48. #48 |  raymond Beckmann | 

    Andy Thomas has not only abused his power and trust by going after his political enemies, he has also cost Maricopa county millions of dollars. His political prosecutions have not only been thrown out, but he is also under investigation. Acting in concert with sheriff Joe “America’s cruelest sheriff” Arpaio, he instituted a reign of terror in the county. I thought prosecutors were to seek the truth. Instead they cover it up in order to obtain convictions, even when they have proof that the accused is innocent. They accuse their enemies to force them to pay expensive fees for private attornys out of their own pocket. Don Stapley, a member of the county board of supervisors for Maricopa county spent 1 million dollars for a private attorney to defend him. He and other public officials, including two {2} Superior court judges have filed notice to sue the county for millions of dollars for wrongful prosecution The federal government needs to indict Andrew Thomas for malicious prosecution of Arizona citizens. Thomas should be disbarred and sent to prison.

  49. #49 |  Over the River | 

    How about all of the above!

  50. #50 |  Paul | 

    I voted for Carr. I know Treadway is quite wicked, and clearly a very popular choice, but she hasn’t even come close to rising to the level of harm Carr has achieved by denying exculpatory evidence to THOUSANDS of defendants.

    Still, Andy Thomas and Greg Zoeller come in a close third and second, respectively. Zoeller is my number two because asset forfeiture is seriously evil, and his actions condoned and encouraged more of it. He caused a lot of harm.

    Thomas has hurt a lot of people, although not nearly as many as Carr and Zoeller. He is my third choice because he nearly derailed democracy and rule of law in Maricopa county, and because of his ties to the monstrous sheriff Joe Arpaio.

    Probably not worth running a similar vote on worst sheriff of the year, since Joe would almost certainly win hands down.

  51. #51 |  Amy | 

    Andrew Thomas filed charges against my autistic brother who had Morpheus on a computer (which I installed for my own use, knowing that if I did he wouldn’t be able to figure out how to uninstall it, thus allowing me to download all the free music I wanted) and through that child pornography was put on his compute, and he was arrested and held on $$100,000.00 bail He has the mentality of a 10 year old and has never demonstrated any sexual deviance of any kind! His sheltered world before this happened consisted of therapy for his autism and playing Scrabble with my mom, he did not ever downnload child pornography. NOBODY CARES THOUGH, NO ONE CAN HELP. MY PARENTS HAVE SPENT EVERY THING THEY HAVE ON LAWYERS, BULLSHIT RISK ASSESSMENTS. WELL OVER $50,000.00 and more then likely he will still get a minimum of 10 years in prison since that’s the minimum mandatory sentence for a single image of anyone under 18

  52. #52 |  Amy | 

    Im voting for Andrew Thomas, he filed charges against my autistic brother who had Morpheus on a computer (which I installed for my own use, knowing that if I did he wouldn’t be able to figure out how to uninstall it, thus allowing me to download all the free music I wanted) and through that child pornography was put on his compute, and he was arrested and held on $$100,000.00 bail He has the mentality of a 10 year old and has never demonstrated any sexual deviance of any kind! His sheltered world before this happened consisted of therapy for his autism and playing Scrabble with my mom, he did not ever downnload child pornography. NOBODY CARES THOUGH, NO ONE CAN HELP. MY PARENTS HAVE SPENT EVERY THING THEY HAVE ON LAWYERS, BULLSHIT RISK ASSESSMENTS. WELL OVER $50,000.00 and more then likely he will still get a minimum of 10 years in prison since that’s the minimum mandatory sentence for a single image of anyone under 18

  53. #53 |  Judi | 

    I think this was a trick question personally.

  54. #54 |  More Prosecutors | The Agitator | 

    [...] to Tanya Treadway, who looks to be our runaway winner of the 2010 Worst Prosecutor of the Year award. Treadway joins Forrest Allgood and Mary Beth Buchanan in our hall of [...]

  55. #55 |  Rob in CT | 

    Woah. Prior to seeing this post, the only things I knew about Jim Hood were from the Katrina-related State Farm Insurance litigation (Dickie Scruggs and all that). Shenanigans, I tells ya! So I’m unsurprised to see his name on this list.

    But something like that rather pales in comparison to “bending” rules in order to put people to death.

  56. #56 |  RG | 

    I can’t say I’m surprised that Treadway’s leading.

  57. #57 |  The 2011 Worst Prosecutor of the Year Award | The Agitator | 

    [...] paragraphs to an already-long post, I’ll just direct you to my write-ups for his 2008 and 2010 nominations. Read those, then read here, here, here, and here to see how Hood further distinguish [...]

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