Criminal Law

Crim. Law Journal Winter 2019, Vol. 19, Issue 1


By James P. Cooper IV*

I. Introduction

Within the State of California, each county’s District Attorneys’ Office provides mission statements that are readily available on their respective websites. A sample of these statements provides the general sentiment within District Attorneys offices across the country: (1) protect the rights of the victims and their families1, (2) ensure public safety2, and (3) seek justice through ethical prosecution.3

These goals have generally been successful in convicting defendants who were accused of crimes. However, over the last forty years, there has been a discouraging presence of wrongful convictions. From 1989 to 2014, there have been 325 DNA exonerations in the United States.4 These stories of wrongful convictions, and how they occurred, can have a grave impact on a community’s trust in its law enforcement officials, essentially corroding the confidence citizens once had in their criminal justice system as a whole.5

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