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NCJ Number: 136384 Find in a Library
Title: Prosecutor Immunity: The Impact of Burns v. Reed
Journal: Prosecutor  Volume:25  Issue:3  Dated:(Winter 1992)  Pages:21-26,28-29
Author(s): T M Davy
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 8
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In the 1991 case of Burns v. Reed, the United States Supreme Court ruled on a difficult question to the detriment of prosecutors by holding that the act of giving advice to the police does not entitle a prosecutor to absolute immunity from civil lawsuits for damages under Federal law.
Abstract: In the Burns case, the suspect was arrested for attempted murder and was detained in a psychiatric ward for 4 months, but the medical experts who examined her disagreed with the police diagnosis of multiple personality. The prosecutor gave legal advice to police officers regarding the use of hypnosis with a suspect and appeared before a judge to seek a search and arrest warrant. The district court found the prosecutor to be absolutely immune from lawsuits for these actions, and the Seventh Circuit upheld this decision. However, the Supreme Court reversed the decision in an opinion that will cause problems in any prosecutor's office that has ever been requested to give advice to the police. This decision will result in more litigation for prosecutors; therefore, they must think carefully when handling requests for advice.
Main Term(s): Legal liability; Police prosecutor relations
Index Term(s): Professional conduct and ethics; Prosecutorial discretion; Prosecutorial immunity; Rights of the accused; US Supreme Court decisions
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