Journalism in the Public Interest


Podcast: When Prosecutors Mishandle Cases, Everyone Pays…Except For Them


Tony Bennett was released from jail after his conviction was overturned due to prosecutorial misconduct and then admitted to ProPublica that he was guilty of murder. (Andrew Burton for ProPublica)

Last week, ProPublica's Joaquin Sapien detailed how New York City prosecutors had committed harmful misconduct in more than two dozen cases — sometimes putting the innocent behind bars while allowing the guilty back on the streets — yet several prosecutors received promotions and raises shortly after courts cited them for abuses.

"There's probably a lot of practitioners in the criminal justice system who are upstanding people with a lot of integrity and have no interest in putting an innocent person in jail but that's not really our point," Sapien explains. "Our point is that when these things happen the consequences are devastating for defendants and their families and the victims, and the consequences for a prosecutor responsible are nonexistent. There are no consequences. People, as we found, go on to have perfectly successful careers after this."

Sapien joined ProPublica's editor-in-chief Steve Engelberg in our Storage Closet Studio to discuss why defense lawyers have been reluctant to file complaints against these prosecutors; how Claude Stuart, a former Queens assistant district attorney, has been one of the only prosecutors to be disciplined for misconduct in the past decade; and the interesting case of Tony Bennett, a man who was released from jail after his conviction was overturned due to misconduct and then admitted to ProPublica that he was guilty of murder.

For more on prosecutorial misconduct, read ProPublica's reports: Who Polices Prosecutors Who Abuse Their Authority? Usually Nobody and Lasting Damage: A Rogue Prosecutor's Final Case. You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.

Kenneth Tennant

July 22, 2013, 4:48 p.m.

Robert Jambois, former Kenosha County DA, now with the State Dept of Transporation in Madison, WI and Robert Zapf, current DA in Kenosha County, WI needs some attention and scrutiny for prosecutorial misconduct. But why stop there ? Look at Jeffrey Dowse. This guy stinks . And “Judge” Bruce Schroeder he put Jeff Tennant in jail on a trumped up charge of failure to appear when they changed the date and didn’t inform Mr. Tennant. They were attempting to coerce him into plea bargaining and ended up dropping all the charges. They took a year of this man’s life and are now fraudulently trying to steal his retro-active social security for the bills THEY racked up in the false report/prosecution. (262) 654-7996

Dr. John Crisler

Nov. 25, 2013, 9:58 p.m.

Here’s another example of Prosecutorial Misconduct:

A GREAT example of why “qualified immunity” is such a blight upon our society!

Dr. John Crisler

Nov. 25, 2013, 9:59 p.m.

I have a GREAT example of why “qualified immunity” is such a blight upon our society. Please do a Google search of my name, and check out my FB page.

Peggy Kite-Martin

March 23, 2014, 5:02 a.m.

When Government Becomes Tyranny,
Rebellion Becomes Responsibility…

Paul Bustion

May 2, 2014, 6:45 a.m.

I was a victim of misconduct by Kenosha, Wisconsin District Attorney Robert Zapf. He is an employee of Carthage, and just happened to file charges against me because I threatened his employer with legal action. However, he allowed a relative of Kenosha, Wisconsin Sheriff David Beth to get away with murder, literally. Mr. Beth’s cousin Denise Heckel, a 42 year old female, murdered a 15 year old female named Michaelina Combs in 2010. It was a negligent homicide, not premeditated, it was the result of drunk driving. The other passenger in her car was her husband Eugene Heckel, who was a police officer, although in a different department. She herself, was a former employee of the Kenosha Police Department. Mr. Zapf refused to prosecute Denise Heckel for her negligent murder. I believe the reason is because of Mrs. Heckel’s links to the authorities in Kenosha. I believe the reason he prosecuted me is because he is an employee of Carthage.


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