Activists like the Dream Defenders did not expect Harold Pryor to win the Broward County (Fort Lauderdale), Florida State Attorney race, nor was he their pick. But win he did in the August 17 Democratic primary, leaving him a nailed-on favorite to take the job.
It is hard for prosecutors to let go of the prosecutorial identity, as seen by the numerous US politicians and pundits who use the refrain “as a former prosecutor” to lend themselves a veneer of additional authority, especially in an era where President Trump has seen many of his associates head to federal prison. But what happens when a city lets go of its prosecutor and her legacy? That prosecutor becomes a kind of ghost.
When Kamala Harris was still San Francisco’s district attorney in 2010, she delivered a talk at the Commonwealth Club where she brought up a common activist slogan—”Schools Not Jails”—and mocked it as naive pandering.
Salt Lake City is a world apart from the rest of Utah culturally and politically, and its choice of district attorney shows that—at least on a surface level. Sim Gill, first elected to the seat in 2010, has made some modest criminal justice reform moves, like expressing support for reducing the number of people on probation or court supervision. As a first-generation immigrant from India, he’s one of the few Asian-American elected prosecutors nationwide. Faced with a conservative Republican challenger in 2018, Gill emerged victorious by 14 percentage points.
In prosecutor accountability circles, the name Leon Cannizzaro carries almost mystical significance. Cannizzaro, the district attorney of Orleans Parish (New Orleans) for the last 12 years, led the biggest prosecutors’ office in the most incarcerated state in the most incarcerated country on the planet, while filing bogus charges against ideological opponents in the public defender’s office. He routinely tricked reluctant, fearful witnesses and even victims to talk to his office through the use of “fake subpoenas” that threatened jail for noncompliance. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
State Attorney Aramis Ayala, the progressive top prosecutor of Orange County, Florida, has released her office’s list of ethically compromised cops for the first time.
A local DA violates human rights and makes his city unsafe — but his opponent suddenly faces convenient charges
At the end of June, New Orleans City Councilman Jason Williams was indicted on federal tax fraud charges. When Williams defiantly announced that he would continue his electoral campaign as the sole challenger to incumbent District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, the city’s top local prosecutor, Cannizzaro called him “delusional.”
The Supreme Court's Oklahoma reservation ruling brings a welcome opportunity for victims of the drug war
Hardline Oklahoma prosecutors have received bad news about their capacity to force people who use drugs into “therapeutic” courts. That is one of the many implications of the far-reaching July 9 Supreme Court decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma.
Sajid A. Khan is a community leader and public defender in Santa Clara County, California, a county of almost two million residents and one of the richest places on the planet. When people are booked into jail there, they watch a video where Khan and his colleague Avi Singh let them know about their basic constitutional rights. (The two also run a podcast, called Aider and Abettor). Talking to Khan, it is clear he is the kind of man who wants to teach you about injustice.
The latest manifestation of Pennsylvania’s political culture-gap, with its stark split between progressive cities and conservative small-town and rural areas, is a proposal to severely restrict the field in top prosecutor elections to candidates who are already law enforcement veterans.