More Prosecutors

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Congratulations 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 infamy.

A few additional comments…

  • William Anderson thinks we need a name for the award. He suggests “The Nifong”. That has a nice ring, but given that Nifong is one of the very few prosecutors who was actually punished for his misconduct, I’m not sure it fits. Any other suggestions?
  • Anderson also says I should have included among the nominees Christopher Arnt, the guy who prosecuted Tonya Craft. Agreed. Oversight on my part.
  • Another reader emailed to ask why I didn’t include Joseph Cassilly, the Maryland prosecutor who pressed for felony charges against Anthony Graber for recording a police officer, despite that Maryland law and every conceivable court ruling says what Graber did was legal. Again, my bad. Definitely should have included Cassilly.
  • Finally, though I included Colorado prosecutor Carol Chambers, I seem to have greatly understated her credentials for the award, which include withholding exculpatory evidence in a death penalty case. I apologize to Ms. Chambers for slighting her. Unfortunately, we can’t do the vote again. But there’s always next year!

Digg it |  reddit | |  Fark

34 Responses to “More Prosecutors”

  1. #1 |  Irving Washington | 

    The Henry Wade Award

  2. #2 |  Irving Washington | 

    Dang. Relied on Wikipedia with insufficient review. It has nothing about the memo that Wade’s office created to train prosecutors how to get blacks off the jury panel.

  3. #3 |  SJE | 

    You should name the award after someone whose conviction was overturned after prosecutorial misconduct was found. This focuses the award on the real issue of prosecutorial misconduct: it may just be a career enhancing game to prosecutors, but it played with the lives of innocent people and with the justice system itself. Its like climbing to the top on mound of corpses.

  4. #4 |  Mark Draughn | 

    For the name of the award, I think you need a historical or fictional reference. The Lionel Hutz award is tempting, but you’ll hear from Matt Groening’s lawyers about that. Same problem with the Hamilton Burger award.

    The Richelieu Award? In reference to the sentiment expressed in “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him”?

    The Anytus Award? After the prosecutor of Socrates on what were, really, some pretty vague and meaningless charges.

    There’s got to be something better…

    Just be warned: If you don’t come up with some other name soon, people are going to start calling it the Balko Award.

  5. #5 |  Pete | 

    We could call it the ‘Good Start Award’, after that timeless joke “What do you call a bus full of lawyers approaching a cliff edge with no brakes?” but really, that joke is about lawyers as a whole, and not petty tyrant bureaucrat lawyers who are the envy of any banana republic despot.

  6. #6 |  KristenS | 

    The Torquemada Award for Justice

  7. #7 |  J.S. | 

    Hmm, Lionel Hutz isn’t too bad.

    How about the Buford T. Justice award for Justice?

  8. #8 |  KristenS | 

    Or, in the silly acronym category:

    The Torquemada Award for Supercilious and Egregious Representation

  9. #9 |  anonamoose | 

    Maybe next year, an open nomination thread for the entries and then a later voting thread? Seems like it might have helped catch missed entries and facts.

  10. #10 |  Tommil | 

    damn Kristen I logged in just to suggest the Torquemada!

  11. #11 |  how | 

    Howzabout “The Gonif” Award? It’s almost an exact anagram of “Nifong?”

    And it’s Yiddish, so, extra points!

  12. #12 |  Phelps | 

    It should be called the Vyshinsky Disgrace (rather than award.)

  13. #13 |  Sean L. | 

    “Maybe next year, an open nomination thread for the entries and then a later voting thread? Seems like it might have helped catch missed entries and facts.”

    I second that idea.

  14. #14 |  Julian | 

    We could be optimistic and call it the “Pre-Nifong”.

  15. #15 |  fish | 

    Nahh…it should be “The Nifong”…and should serve as an inspiration for what is actually ultimately achievable in the field of prosecutor prosecutions!

  16. #16 |  GT | 

    Phelps – on Twitter I suggested calling the aware the ‘Beria’; specifically for a line in a biography of Beria – that he “used his power to indulge himself in obsessive depravity”. Vyshynsky is probably a better fit and the ‘Disgrace’ element is inspired and must be supported for maximum justice.

    It’s also interesting (in the light of Wikileaks recent cable revelations plus the ongoing rape-smear against JA) that –

    (1) allegations of sexual depravity were ‘de rigeur’ in Soviet show-trials; and
    (2) US Embassy staff knew that Beria was a serial rapist, but did nothing whatsoever about it.



  17. #17 |  GT | 

    @ Mark Draughn – the Richelieu is a good’un too… but to get the full flavour of how these vermin work I think a Soviet-era riff is important.

    The “Vyzhynzky Disgrace” awards gets my vote (did somebody say we were voting? I hope not, since I am anti-democracy, root and branch).



  18. #18 |  SJE | 

    If we are going to name it after a prosecutor, I go for Richleau.
    (A) His boast that he could hang an honest man is not far different from too many prosecutors who seem disinterested in actual innocence or guilt, only what they can achieve, even if it leads to death. It also recalls the farce of the grand jury, where anything could be twisted to get an indictment.
    (B) Richleau was an extremely effective persecutor of those who were threatened the power of the state and/or church, such as protestants Heugenots. He was all about use of state power, and not about the ethics of it.
    (C) The Heugenot situation bears similarity to the drug war. Being protestant was legal and tolerated for quite some time, then was outlawed, leading to a civil war. Like drugs, a personal belief that harms no one except the power of the state. There is a famous picture of Richleau attending the seige of a Heugenot city.
    (D) Richleau profited enormously from his actions, like a modern day prosecutor who can use his tough on crime stance to become judge, mayor, governor or senator.

  19. #19 |  johnl | 

    Le Javert.

  20. #20 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    The John Hathorne Award:

  21. #21 |  TC | 

    I’m going to vote for Nifong in some deviation as well. Reason? Not because he was caught and punished and these others have NOT YET been, but the world knows the name Nifong and it rings of asshole activities for personal/political gain!

    Maybe something like,, “Name of Award” for the continued Nifonging of the American [strikeout] Justice [insert] Legal System!

    There is the usual AHOW and year awards.
    Over the Top
    Over the Line
    Over Your Rights
    Fuck Justice
    concubitus vos Justicia
    Designer Justice

    Oh well that’s enough time.

  22. #22 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    John Hathorne was one of the executors at the Salem Witch Trails and the only one who never repented of his actions. Remembered as one of the main villains in The Crucible and Satan’s hand picked judge in The Devil and Daniel Webster.

  23. #23 |  pam | 

    How about the Rowland Geddie Award.

    Just before the jury was instructed to follow along with a juvenile’s statement as the cop read it, the judge in the murder trial of the 8th grader facing mandatory life, asked DA Geddie if his copy of the statement (given without parent or lawyer present) was redacted. He said it was NOT redacted. Five minutes later photocopies of DA Geddie’s copy of the statement were made and he personally handed them out the the jury. A full 24 hours later one of the two jurors who had the unredacted copies informed the judge. The juror said she hadn’t read the redacted information but knew it wasn’t supposed to be there AND she could set it aside. In a 5 minute recess, the boy’s lawyer advised him not to ask for a mistrial. Needless to say, he was convicted. And that’s not all DA Geddie did to ensure a conviction.

  24. #24 |  kant | 

    what about the Lavrentiy Beria Award.

    Lavrentiy Beria was the chief of stalin’s secret police. Yes I know secret police as prosecutors are different jobs but a lot of prosecutors seem to live by a quote of his “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime”

  25. #25 |  kant | 

    dang GT beat me to the punch…well same man different reasons but still.

  26. #26 |  Joe | 

    William Anderson thinks we need a name for the award. He suggests “The Nifong”. That has a nice ring, but given that Nifong is one of the very few prosecutors who was actually punished for his misconduct, I’m not sure it fits. Any other suggestions?

    The Nifong fits precisely because he is one of the few prosecutors actually punished. That is the goal, correct? Accountability.

  27. #27 |  Kevin Carson | 

    The Nancy Grace Award. She’s by no means the most unethical (former) prosecutor out there, but she’s probably the loudest and most obnoxious advocate for the prosecutorial ideology. And she really was crooked.

  28. #28 |  BoogaFrito | 

    I agree “The Nifong” would be perfect. Partly because it’s an instantly recognizable name (some obscure/wiki-necessitating reference would dampen the impact), but also because people immediately connect it to egregious and indefensible prosecutorial misconduct.

    There would be no question what the award is for (despite the nominees not actually being punished…yet).

  29. #29 |  Patrick | 

    Seconded to Andrei Vyshinsky.

    a) He inspired, in part, “Darkness At Noon”;
    b) He wasn’t just not punished for his crimes; he was rewarded. At his death he was the Soviet ambassador to the United Nations. He got to die in New York, rather than facing a wall with a bullet about to enter his brain;
    c) This passage:

    Time will pass. The graves of these odious traitors will be overgrown with weeds, covered with the eternal contempt of Soviet people, of the whole Soviet nation. But over us, over our happy country, our sun will shine with its bright rays as clearly and joyfully as before. But we, the nation will walk as we did before, on a road cleansed of the last impurity and vileness of the past, following our beloved leader and teacher — the great Stalin — forward and ever forward, to Communism!

    was directed against a man on trial merely for being Bukharin’s doctor. (Bukharin and Zinoviev and Radek deserved to be shot, but dozens of innocents were tried with them.

  30. #30 |  Bill Anderson | 

    So many criminal prosecutors! (Is that a redundant term?) So few bytes in the universe!

    I like Kevin Carson’s idea of naming it The Grace! By the way, Nancy Grace told Tonya Craft that she was guilty; thus, Grace also approved of the prosecution and all its perjury and false “evidence.” Grace never did backtrack on her original statement, and to me, silence means approval.

  31. #31 |  Bob Allen | 

    The Impunity

  32. #32 |  Andrew S. | 

    I like the idea of naming it after Nancy Grace. Not only did she have an awful record as a prosecutor, but in her roles with CourtTV and CNN, she’s done more to advance unethical prosecutors at the expense of the rest of us than anyone else on the list.

  33. #33 |  coram nobis | 

    If this is to be a long-standing award, to commemorate a truly infamous prosecutor, how about Charles M. Fickert? The DA who framed the Mooney-Billings case back in the WWI period? Evidence tampering, witness tampering, subornation of perjury, dirty political campaigning, and assault and battery on a newspaper publisher. If that doesn’t make him truly worthy to be remembered in the annual Fickert Award, then what is?

  34. #34 |  George B. | 

    How about the District Attorney Misconduct and Negligence Award, or the DAMN Award?