While crime rates across this country have fallen in recent
years, incidents of police and prosecutorial misconduct are as
prevalent as ever. In fact, the very tactics that police and
prosecutors use to prevent and punish crime often lead to the
kind of abuses so often witnessed by news events.
A strong public policy in the United States has always
promoted exposing and quickly bringing to trial those
accused of crimes without subjecting prosecutors, police and
public-minded citizens to possible lawsuits for their efforts.
In addition to running counter to this design, some sectors of
our society also believe that they tend to stir unrest by not
allowing completed litigation to remain undisturbed.
Somehow, in the balancing act, they feel the inconvenience of
this unrest is not offset by whatever good may occur when
justice in these cases finally emerges.
While it is not unusual to find a “let sleeping dogs lie”
judicial attitude in other areas of the law, the courts appear to
have taken an overly protective stance in regard to police
misconduct and prosecutorial misfeasance. Common law, as
it evolved in this area, has placed unduly harsh restrictions
upon the plaintiff and, at times, the courts have resorted to
strained reasoning to accomplish the desired ends.