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Recantation: Problems for Prosecutors Before, During and After Trial

NCJ Number
American Journal of Criminal Law Volume: 18 Issue: 2 Dated: (Winter 1991) Pages: 187-199
J J Douglass
Date Published
13 pages
Whether the recantation comes before trial, at trial, or long after all appellate decisions in the case, the prosecutor faces practical and ethical problems in dealing with the recanting witness.
The issues vary depending on the point in time in the process when the recantation occurs. Ethical problems are exacerbated by searching simultaneously for solutions to the legal and advocacy problems. The prosecutor must continue to function as the key figure in the criminal justice system. Pressure comes from outside agencies seeking to influence the prosecutor's decision. Victims may urge that the status quo be maintained; the press may take a position unfettered by personal pressures. Other public officials, especially the police, will also have viewpoints. The prosecutor who has the decisionmaking responsibility must retain a sense of objectivity combined with an inner sense of professional responsibility. 19 footnotes


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