For Unethical Maine Prosecutor, Did the Punishment Fit the Offense?
WASHINGTON / July 24, 2013 – Following announcement of the imposition of light sanctions on prosecutor Mary Kellett, the Center for Prosecutor Integrity is asking whether the punishment was sufficient, considering the severity of the offense.
Last week, Maine Supreme Court Justice Ellen Gorman announced that ADA Mary Kellett would have her license suspended for 30 days, but then stayed the suspension on the condition that Kellett complete six hours of continuing legal education.
Gorman’s decision followed the decision of a Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar panel which found Kellett had violated seven rules of professional conduct. Following an in-depth investigation, the three-member panel termed Kellett’s conduct in a sexual assault case to be “inexcusable” and recommended suspension of her license. The panel found Kellett had concealed exculpatory evidence and misled the jury in her closing arguments.
Kellett’s defense lawyers argued this was the first time Kellett has ever been charged with prosecutorial misconduct. But columnist Robert Franklin highlighted the existence of previous cases in which Kellett made charging decisions that lacked probable cause, according to media accounts. “This isn’t a slap on the wrist, it’s a caress with the softest of feathers,” Franklin charged. https://www.nationalparentsorganization.org/blog/21040-no-discipline-for-rogue-prosecutor-mary-kellett
The Center for Prosecutor Integrity notes federal and state lawmakers are increasingly concerned with the problems of over-criminalization and over-prosecution. At a June 14 hearing of the House Judiciary Committee Task Force on Over-Criminalization, the American Bar Association testified that serious problems in the criminal justice process “undermine basic tenets of fairness and equality as well as the public’s expectation of safety.”
Many believe prosecutor misconduct is inadequately addressed. Most cases of misconduct are never investigated. Of the instances that are investigated, most are not publicly reported. Of those that are reported, most are never considered by the state ethics oversight board. A 2010 analysis by the Northern California Innocence Project found the State Bar publicly disciplined only one percent of prosecutors who had been found by a court to have engaged in misconduct.
“ADA Mary Kellett intentionally flaunted her ethical and moral duty to be a minister of justice.” notes CPI spokesperson Sheryle Hutter. “And now she only has to take six hours of legal training? That doesn’t seem right.”
A Center for Prosecutor Integrity report reveals the four most common forms of prosecutor misconduct in sexual assault and domestic violence cases are charging without probable cause, engaging in selective prosecution, concealing evidence, and failing to enforce perjury statutes: http://www.prosecutorintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/White-Paper-Prosecutor-Misconduct1.pdf
The Center for Prosecutor Integrity, a project of Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, is working to preserve the presumption of innocence, assure equal treatment under law, and bring an end to wrongful convictions: www.prosecutorintegrity.org
Contact: Teri Stoddard