Patriot Act Increases Potential for Prosecutorial Misconduct
March 22, 2005

Expansion of the definition of "domestic terrorism" in the Patriot II Act will make more citizens targets for prosecutorial abuse. For that reason, the Coalition Against Prosecutorial Abuse supports Rep. Bob Barr and the Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances.

A recent study by the Center for Public Integrity found that prosecutors stretched, bent or broke rules so badly in more than 2,000 cases since 1970 that appellate judges dismissed criminal charges, reversed convictions or reduced sentences. They use high-publicity cases involving the hot "drug du jour" such as OxyContin, or celebrities such as Martha Stewart, as career stepping stones on the backs of the defendants, rather than to serve the public or justice.

And that's just in the cases that went to trial -- about 95 percent of defendants plead guilty without a trial. And it's in that pre-trial period that the misconduct is the most hidden, but the most abusive, including legal extortion.

CAPA founder and chair, Kathryn Serkes urged Congress to review the most intrusive provisions of the Patriot Act, including Sections 213 and 215 which allow secret searches and secret record collection without notice or specific evidence of wrongdoing. Further, the "sneak and peak" provisions allow for open-ended snooping with no limited time frame. "Secrecy and stalling are two of the favorite tactics of law enforcement and prosecutors to bring potential defendants to their knees," said Serkes. "This coalition is simply asking for the proper checks to be restored."

CAPA is a broad based coalition of individuals, think tanks, and attorneys dedicated to public education and judicial reforms to protect the civil rights in the judicial process.

Kathryn Serkes, Founder & Chair
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