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HB 0251 - Prosecuting attorneys; standards and duties; subject to discipline and sanctions

Tracking Level: Monitor
Sponsor: Scott,Austin 153rd
Last Action: 2/2/2007 - House Second Readers
House Committee: JudyNC
Assigned To:
05. Superior CourtsNext Bill
08. Probate CourtsNext Bill
09. Magistrate CourtsNext Bill
10. Municipal CourtsNext Bill

Staff Analysis of the Legislation

Amend Chapter 18 of Title 15.  Provide that prosecuting attorneys shall be subject to discipline and sanctions, including removal from office and involuntary retirement by the Judicial Qualifications Commission.  Defines various terms.  Any prosecuting attorney may be removed, suspended, or otherwise disciplined by the commission for willful misconduct in office, for willful and persistent failure to perform the duties of office, for habitual intemperance, for conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.  The Prosecuting attorneys shall adhere to the following standards in the conduct of the duties of their offices: respect and comply with the law and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judicial system; shall not allow their family, social, political, or other relationships to influence their conduct or judgment; shall not hold membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination; shall refrain from manifesting, by words and conduct, bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status against parties, witnesses, counsel, or others; shall require their staffs and others subject to their direction and control to observe the standards of fidelity and diligence that apply to the prosecuting attorneys and to refrain from manifesting bias or prejudice in the performance of their official duties; shall disqualify themselves in any proceeding in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned including, but not limited to, instances where: the prosecuting attorney has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party�s lawyer; the prosecuting attorney served as a lawyer in the matter of controversy, a lawyer with whom the prosecuting attorney previously practiced law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter, or the prosecuting attorney has been a material witness concerning it; and the prosecuting attorney or his or her spouse, a person within the third degree of relationship to either of them or the spouse of such a person, or any other member of the prosecuting attorney�s family residing in the prosecuting attorney�s household: is a party to the proceeding or an officer, director, or trustee of a party; is acting as a lawyer in the proceeding; is known by the prosecuting attorney to have a more than de minimis interest that could be substantially affected by the proceeding; or is to the prosecuting attorney�s knowledge likely to be a material witness in the proceeding or was the victim of the crime alleged in the proceeding.  Prosecuting attorneys shall refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecuting attorney knows is not supported by probable cause; shall refrain from making any effort to prevent an accused person from exercising a reasonable effort to obtain counsel; shall make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecuting attorney that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or that mitigates the offense; shall exercise reasonable care to prevent persons who are under their direct supervision from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecuting attorney would be prohibited from making under paragraph (12) of this Code section; shall not subpoena a lawyer in a grand jury or other criminal proceeding to present evidence about a past or present client unless the prosecuting attorney reasonably believes: the information sought is not protected from disclosure by any applicable privilege; the evidence sought is essential to the successful completion of an ongoing investigation or prosecution; and there is no other feasible alternative to obtain the information; and except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecuting attorney�s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, prosecuting attorneys shall refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused.


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