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home : opinion : opinion
July 9, 2020

6/27/2020 12:45:00 PM
Judicial Corner - The Prosecutor
By Cass County Attorney Ben Lindstrom


There are many different beliefs about what a prosecutor should be. Some believe prosecutors should ignore laws they disagree with, while others believe that the prosecutor is only a tool of punishment and oppression. Both could not be farther from the truth. While there are certainly cases and situations where punishment is needed and appropriate, the prosecutor should be anything but an oppressor. Futhermore, a free society depends on respect for the rule of law and the process by which those laws come into being through the consent of the people.

Upon assuming the elected Office of County Attorney, I wanted to be reminded everyday about why I was there. That reminder is framed and hangs on the wall opposite of the desk I sit at. It was given to my family by a Judge who started service on the bench before I was born. It is an everyday reminder of what a prosecutor should and must be:

"A prosecutor is not merely the representative of an ordinary party to a controversy. Instead, a prosecutor represents "the sovereignty" whose obligation to govern "impartially" is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all.

The interest of a prosecutor in a criminal prosecution is not that they shall win a case, but instead that justice shall be done.

They should prosecute with earnestness and vigor - indeed. But, while they may strike hard blows, they are not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much the prosecutor's duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one.

See Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78, at 88 (1935)



If you have a question that you would like to have addressed in this column contact Ben Lindstrom, Cass County Attorney at

218-547-7255 or by email at ben.lindstrom@co.cass.mn.us


LAPS




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