Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Benjamin Thomas Field--Bad Prosecutor

I get a news feed from a website called Legal Profession blawg which had the report from the California Bar Association concerning the heavy discipline imposed on a career prosecutor, a 5 year suspension over "prosecutoria misconduct."  The opinion can be read at the link. I read it with a real sense of horror at both the actions of Benjamin Field and the sanctions imposed on this guy. 

Apparently in California, win-at-all-costs prosecutors can actually lose their licenses to practice law.  In OurState, in Texas, in alot of places around the country this guy would be elevated to the bench, not sanctioned.  

Reading the entire opinion you do find that he was nominated for a Judgeship at one point, and Mr. Field was basically well-regarded by a lot of lawyers who are defense attorneys and Judges.  But what Field did in 4 cases: withheld exculpatory evidence, defied court orders, made flagrantly improper closing arguments, and in one instance ordered a prohibited dental exam on a minor to prove a tenuous point--all resulted in convictions being reversed and the taxpayers and citizens of California bearing the brunt of the misconduct, let alone the criminal defendants who after all had certain rights under the US and California constitutions. 

Mr. Field was a public servant and he screwed up in at least 4 cases, significantly.  He should be disciplined--but 5 years!  Harsh?  As harsh as I've ever encountered for "prosecutorial misconduct" that didn't actually rise to the level of criminal conduct by the prosecutor.


  1. I was victim of that culture of winning at all cost. I lost my trust in the system after Obama hired the problems into the US DoJ - Prop-8-DADT

  2. In my opinion, if the questioned action was intentional and resulted in significant jail time or other punishment, then it shuld be a crime.

  3. Win-at-all-costs prosecutors should be punished with the same fervor they used to go after the accused.