National District Attorneys Association President Mathias Heck, Jr., has just released a significant and powerful statement on the case. I quote it in full:
The recent case of the exonerated athletes in
North Carolinahas affirmed the importance of the ethical standards of ’s prosecutors and serves as a reminder that the primary ethical duty of a prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict. America
The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) has been instrumental in developing rigorous rules and standards which govern the actions of prosecutors. These standards severely limit public comment on pending cases, the personal belief of the prosecutor as to the defendant’s guilt, the contents or existence of confessions, the results of any scientific tests, and the credibility of witnesses.
The NDAA’s commitment to the highest ethical standards is reflected by the adoption of the National Prosecution Standards, the establishment of the
National Centerfor Prosecution Ethics and the provision of specialized training in prosecution ethics and professionalism at the . National Advocacy Center
In our search for justice, prosecutors are uniquely obligated to make timely disclosure of any evidence which may tend to negate the guilt of the accused. On a daily basis, over 30,000 state and local prosecutors across the country are responsible for evaluating evidence in cases and making difficult decisions to prosecute, not prosecute, or dismiss charges previously filed when the interests of justice are best served. Sometimes justice is best served by declining to prosecute.
The confidence of the public and the very integrity of the criminal justice process depend on strict compliance with these ethical standards. To the extent that any individual prosecutor violates these high ethical standards the public confidence in our criminal justice system is undermined and the image of all prosecutors suffers.
The NDAA, as the voice of
’s prosecutors, condemns any intentional violation of these standards. America
The allegations in this case, if true, represent an aberration. They are not the custom and practice of the thousands of prosecutors who each day seek the truth and uphold the high ethical standards required of prosecutors who bear special responsibilities to the American public.