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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 67598 Find in a Library
Title: SUPPLEMENTAL STATEMENT OF PHILIP B HEYMANN, CRIMINAL DIVISION, US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, ON APRIL 23, 1980 BEFORE THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
Author(s): P B HEYMANN
Corporate Author: US Dept of Justice
Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section
Criminal Division
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 22
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
US Dept of Justice
Washington, DC 20530
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Legislative/Regulatory Material
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: AN ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FROM THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT'S CRIMINAL DIVISION DESCRIBES PROSECUTIONS FOR PUBLIC CORRUPTION, WITH SPECIAL ATTENTION TO DECISIONS NOT TO PROSECUTE CORRUPTION CASES.
Abstract: BETWEEN 1975 AND 1979, INVESTIGATIONS OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED IN CORRUPT ACTIVITIES HAVE INCREASED DRAMATICALLY. THIS GROWTH CAN BE ATTRIBUTED TO THE DECISION TO GIVE PUBLIC INTEGRITY CASES HIGH PRIORITY AMONG THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT'S CRIME ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS, AS WELL AS THE CREATION OF NEW OPERATING UNITS BY THE FBI. IN THE DECADE AFTER WATERGATE, FBI AGENTS, NEWSPAPER REPORTERS, AND PROSECUTORS HAVE SHOWN GREAT ENTHUSIASM FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY CASES, AND THE POLICY OF INDEPENDENCE ADOPTED BY THE LAST TWO ATTORNEY GENERALS HAS PROTECTED PROSECUTORS FROM OUTSIDE PRESSURES. PUBLIC OFFICIALS AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS HAVE BEEN CONVICTED OF CORRUPTION AND MISCONDUCT, AS DEMONSTRATED IN SEVERAL CASE EXAMPLES. DECISIONS CONCERNING WHICH CASES TO PROSECUTE AND WHICH CASES TO DECLINE ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE PROSECUTOR'S JOB. DECLINATIONS ARE COMMON FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS, SUCH AS SCARCITY OF RESOURCES, LACK OF EVIDENCE SUPPORTING THE INITIAL ALLEGATION, JURY APPEAL OF THE CASE, AND AVAILABILITY OF ALTERNATIVE SANCTIONS. DECLINING TO PROSECUTE A CORRUPTION CASE IS LIKELY TO LEAD TO CHARGES OF COVERUP AND PUBLIC MISUNDERSTANDING, AS EVIDENCED IN RECENT CRITICISMS OF THE CHIEF OF THE DEPARTMENT'S PUBLIC INTEGRITY SECTION. THE DECLINATION FUNCTION CAN BE CONFUSING TO CITIZENS BECAUSE THEY DO NOT ALWAYS PERCEIVE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SCANDALOUS AND CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR; HAVE NO ACCESS TO DATA INFLUENCING DECLINATION DECISIONS; AND ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE STANDARD METHODS, LEGAL PROCESSES, AND GENERALLY SLOW PROGRESS OF ANY CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION. THE PUBLIC HAS A RESPONSIBILITY TO SCRUTINIZE LAW ENFORCEMENT AND PROSECUTORIAL ACTIVITIES, BUT A DEGREE OF RESTRAINT IS NECESSARY TO AVIOD CREATING A SYSTEM IN WHICH THE ONLY INCENTIVE IS TO PROSECUTE, NO MATTER HOW WEAK OR NONEXISTENT THE CASE. (MJM)
Index Term(s): Corruption of public officials; Prosecutorial discretion; US Department of Justice
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=67598

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