Bill Montgomery Opposes Ethics Rule Requiring Prosecutors to Reveal Evidence of Wrongful Convictions

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Monty's against requiring prosecutors to reveal new evidence of a convict's innocence . . .

As Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery fights to keep Debra Milke behind bars pending a retrial on her overturned murder conviction, he also is fighting a proposed rule to the State Bar of Arizona that would require prosecutors to act on new evidence of a wrongful conviction.

For the past two years, the Arizona Justice Project has petitioned the Arizona Supreme Court to change the State Bar of Arizona's ethics rules, adding a provision based on the American Bar Association's Ethical Rule 3.8.

The ABA's rule states that if a prosecutor discovers "new, credible, and material evidence" of a wrongful conviction, he or she must disclose the evidence to the defendant and "undertake further investigation or make reasonable efforts to cause an investigation, to determine whether the defendant was convicted of an offense that the defendant did not commit."

See Also:
Debra Milke's Attorney Asks Court to Disqualify Bill Montgomery's Office as Prosecutor

Should there arise "clear and convincing" evidence of the innocence of someone convicted in the prosecutor's jurisdiction, "the prosecutor shall seek to remedy the conviction." According to the AJP's filings, eight states have adopted the ABA rule in whole or in part, largely over concern caused by a slew of death penalty cases nationwide that have been overturned due to new evidence.

Based on the suggestions of local prosecutors, the Arizona Supreme Court re-opened comments on the proposed rule this year, offering a somewhat watered-down version of the ABA rule.

It reads:

"(g) When a prosecutor knows of new and credible evidence that the prosecutor knows creates a reasonable likelihood that a convicted defendant did not commit an offense of which the defendant was convicted, the prosecutor shall:
(1) promptly disclose that evidence to an appropriate court or authority, and
(2) if the judgment of conviction was entered by a court in which the prosecutor exercises prosecutorial authority, promptly disclose that evidence to the defendant unless a court authorizes delay.
(h) When a prosecutor knows of clear and convincing evidence that the prosecutor knows establishes that a defendant in the prosecutor's jurisdiction was convicted of an offense that the defendant did not commit, the prosecutor shall take steps in the appropriate court, consistent with applicable law, to set aside the conviction.
(i) A prosecutor's independent judgment, made in good faith, that the information is not of such a nature as to trigger the obligation of this rule, though subsequently determined to have been erroneous, does not constitute a violation of this Rule."

In a county that has given us the wrongful murder conviction of Ray Krone, the extra-constitutional antics of disbarred former county attorney Andrew Thomas, and now the overturned conviction of Debra Milke, whose still-warm spot on death row was secured via the testimony of a Phoenix Police Detective with a long history of lying and abuse of authority, a rule such as this would seem a no-brainer.

But not to Montgomery, who still wants his prosecutors to have the ability to hide the football after a conviction without fear of sanction by the state Bar.

In a comment to the court penned by Mark Faull, Monty's chief deputy, Faull argues that these "new obligations" would be "confusing and burdensome" and that there is "no convincing evidence that Arizona has a 'problem' of wrongful convictions" or that "prosecutors have failed to take corrective action when appropriate."

This proves conclusively that at least some prosecutors come from an imaginary planet where unethical behavior by their tribe does not exist.



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23 comments
azwi
azwi

Why, doesn't Bill Montgomery have any ethic himself?  I'm finding Montgomery's integrity quite questionable!

maz2331
maz2331

The problem is that the prosecutor has no actual skin in the game, and much political capital to gain by being "tough".  The only way to fix the system is to make the attack dogs liable personally for their bites when they mess up.  They should do double the time and turn over their entire estate to those they railroaded. 

Dontbelieveit
Dontbelieveit topcommenter

When I think of justice in Maricopa County ...............................a picture of the three monkey's comes to mind ..........Hear no Evil.......... Speak no Evil  and See no Evil ....... .......The justice system has  for far too long been one of the most......... ........if not THE MOST CORRUPT JUSTICE SYSTEM IN THE COUNTRY ....................BAR NONE!

timdlittle
timdlittle

Why would a state Oligarchy  want any sort of ethical standards in place? Arizona did not get on the top ten list of dirty state Governments for nothing. Montgomery is a gangster with a law degree and a elected position. scary.

Gary Waterman
Gary Waterman

I am typically very critical of NT reporting but on this subject I couldn't agree more. There is no reason one could give that would make me agree that a wrongfully convicted person should remain sentenced for 1 additional minute if the information to correct the situation is in hand. And I certainly don't think such situations being "burdensome to the prosecutors office" should be given any weight at all. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that sitting on death row, serving a life sentence, serving a shorter term or having your life, career and reputation erroneously destroyed might be considered "burdensome" at the least to the person involved. Such cases should be given the highest of priority. Those involved should be immediately notified and be given full latitude to meet with attorneys and be given the option of being moved to Administrative Segregation while the matter is quickly looked into. Prisons have a weird social system and this persons name appearing in the media when a situation like this comes up could put them in danger. In short, if the information leads us to believe a mistake has occurred, we need to recognize it for what it is. It's a travesty of our justice system and every attempt should be made to correct it as quickly as possible. We also need to recognize that if this has occurred we have put an innocent person into a snake pit where violent crime is 75% higher than it is on the streets. It would be our duty to make reasonable attempts to protect this person (since we have removed their ability to do that for themselves) and separate them from that environment quickly. AdSeg would be the best option at that point.

Cozz
Cozz topcommenter

Doesn't surprise me a bit that Montgomery and the County Attorneys Office would fight anything that requires them to be ethical.


When you've been unethical as long as they have, change is very difficult.

Karyl Krug
Karyl Krug

I was going to say, only a complete dick would oppose revealing evidence of factual, actual innocence. Plus, this particular case is in a pretrial posture and he's absolutely required to reveal that stuff under Brady, anyway. Is the Phoenix New Times ever going to cover the story that I was fired as a Capital Staff Attorney for reporting the other Capital Staff Attorney to the State Bar, as they said I had to, for fraudulently using the title "attorney" while advising judges statewide in death penalty cases from 2007-2012? And she also represented in a grant request to the Arizona Supreme Court to fund our jobs that we were both longstanding criminal attorneys and criminal law specialists, when she is neither? She co-authored papers with judges, presented CLEs to lawyers and judges, for years, all without telling anyone that she was not a licensed attorney? The AZ Supreme Court, in turn, changed her title and changed the parameters for how these particular grant funds could be used to include the newly formed "Capital Litigation Law Clerks." So they covered up grant fraud to protect about 7 years of capital murder convictions. Oh, and it's not a crime to pretend to be a lawyer in Arizona, whereas it's a third degree felony in Texas if your bar card expires for even administrative reasons mid-trial. I've been waiting for you guys to contact me for over a year. I have the "consent decree" worked out between the bar and the non-lawyer right here. I've also been blackballed from working in my field here in Maricopa County, which has turned out to be just as much fun as nationally advertised before we moved here in August 2011. It never occurred to me that Sheriff Joe might just be the tip of an iceberg. I didn't sue because I thought there were too many "public servants" feeding at the public trough because of Andrew Thomas. I thought it was unseemly. I thought I would just go out and get a different job. Wrong!

Eleanor_Holguin
Eleanor_Holguin

Of course he does. Most unethical people don't want real justice.

Swoosh
Swoosh

This is a prime reason why I do not vote for Democrips or Rebloodicans.  Thank You Mr. Montgomery for showing exactly who I always knew you were.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

so Monty doesnt want evidence that clears people to be reviewed or brought to light? he doesnt want people who are wrongly convicted to be able to clear their names? thats about par for the course in Maricopa county these days. Justice isnt just blind, she's being gagged and beaten too

NWEng
NWEng

It just goes to show that those who vote for the likes of Arpaio, Horne, Thomas, and Montgomery, should really look to breed outside their own family tree.

marcy
marcy

If Arizona doesn't have a problem with wrongful convictions they Monty shouldn't have a problem with the proposed legislation.


david_saint01
david_saint01

a REAL West Point man wouldnt act the way Monty pug does...you can stop claiming you are one now poodle, when you do you embarrass the many fine men that have graduated and actually STUCK to the core principles of honor, integrity, and courage in the face of adversity. 

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

@azwi What integrity? He would have to have some in order for it to be questioned.

Eleanor_Holguin
Eleanor_Holguin

@Karyl Krug If the statute of limitations hasn't expired I would recommend you find a good, ethical attorney. 

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