Reform We Can Agree on: Public Opinion on Prosecutorial Liability
The current study explores public opinion about civil liability for official misconduct by prosecutors by surveying a nationally representative sample of US adults (N = 2000).
Participants read a vignette describing a wrongful conviction and were randomly assigned to read a version where the prosecutor knew about exonerating DNA evidence before trial and did not disclose it or where the prosecutor was unaware of the exonerating evidence before trial. They then decided whether the prosecutor should be liable for money damages and explained their reasoning.
Results showed broad support for civil liability in both conditions. Support was consistent across demographic categories including race, age, and political affiliation. Responses also indicated support for liability for other government actors (e.g., police, prosecutors’ offices).
These results suggest there may be wide public support for policies and legislative initiatives that increase prosecutorial accountability through civil liability.
prosecutorial misconduct, absolute immunity, wrongful conviction
Journal of Experimental Criminology
Greenspan, Rachel Leigh; Miller, Ross; and Heaton, Paul, "Reform We Can Agree on: Public Opinion on Prosecutorial Liability" (2022). Faculty Scholarship at Penn Carey Law. 2984.