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Thread: Private Prosecution, good idea or bad?

  1. #1
    Regular Member EMNofSeattle's Avatar
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    Private Prosecution, good idea or bad?

    Well Sudden Valley Gunner on another thread seemed to advocate for private prosecution.

    Which from what I gather is the ability of any average citizen to file charges and prosecute someone themselves and/or hire an attorney to prosecute for them.

    This idea actually has roots in english common law and was done for many years in the United States until the 20th century when public prosecutors became the norm everywhere. Private Prosecution from what I gather is still legal and practiced in the United Kingdom, except in Scotland where Scot's law has many requirements including recieving permission of the court to proceed. I also understand it can technically be done in Virginia and in North Carolina although the last private prosecution in NC was done in 1975.

    Advantages would be
    >Corrupt officials or those with political connections can be held accountable
    >If public prosecution were done away with entirely then only people who had wronged other people would be prosecuted, those heavy handed laws or those laws with no victim would be nullified by lack of prosecution
    >It would reinforce the idea that public officials work for the public at large

    Disadvantages
    >Frivolous claims may occur more often
    >Court Systems would have to eat the cost of many claims filed by parties of varying interests, since indictments have to be seen by a judge first, this would require that a claim filed by anyone and their lawyer would have to be reviewed, at considerable expense to the court system
    >If public prosecution were done away with entirely, the poor or disadvantaged who could not afford an attorney would be unable to access justice if they're the victim of a crime. even if the system allowed "pro se prosecution" it's unlikely those who can't afford a lawyer would know the law or procedure well enough to succeed, leaving lower income people as the victims of years of unprosecuted offenses
    >Threat of criminal prosecution could be used for blackmail or extortion purposes.

    Any thoughts or opinions?
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  2. #2
    Regular Member Freedom1Man's Avatar
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    From what I understand private prosecution is not cheap or easy.

    Also private prosecution would allow for a citizen to charge someone with a law violation that a prosecutor would never charge anyone with. I would give some examples however, due to the fact that most Americans refuse to believe the truth I will not provide them here.

    Maybe you work at a place that is committing the crime of conversion against you. You have taken all the steps you can before making it a legal issue. You file a complaint for felony conversion and conspiracy to commit conversion with the prosecutor's office. The prosecutor wants the business/company to continue to commit this crime. With private prosecution you still have to prove your case and you're the one paying the costs (I hope you get reimbursed if you win). Then you can still file the civil charges.

    I will try this as another example. Taking a motor vehicle without permission (theft of an automobile). Let's say that an ex BF/GF has a copy of your car key still. They are still upset about the break up, take your automobile, and crash it into a UPS truck repeatedly (this really happened). If the prosecutor looks at it and says "I am too busy and it's civil offense," you can still charge them with the felony (under Washington State law) that it is. Maybe the EX is a friend of the (public) prosecutor and that might have some affect on the (public) prosecutor's willingness to prosecute.
    Provision for free medical attendance and nursing, for clothing, for food, for housing, for the education of children, and a hundred other matters, might with equal propriety be proposed as tending to relieve the employee of mental strain and worry. --- These matters obviously lie outside the orbit of congressional power. (Railroad Retirement Board v Alton Railroad)

  3. #3
    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Yes I am a believer we need to bring back civilian use of private prosecution.

    I don't believe we should let the government have monopoly on the use of force and discretion upon whom it deems necessary to prosecute.

    Since I am obviously pro I'll discuss what you list as disadvantages.

    Disadvantages
    >Frivolous claims may occur more often

    Not really because, the costs is burdened by the person pressing charges.

    >Court Systems would have to eat the cost of many claims filed by parties of varying interests, since indictments have to be seen by a judge first, this would require that a claim filed by anyone and their lawyer would have to be reviewed, at considerable expense to the court system

    Just like the looser pay now, the looser would pay in private prosecution. It would also save money because of the large amount of tax money that is spent on full time prosecutors. My county of around 100,000 people pay for over 20 acting prosectors, assistants, secretaries.....etc.

    Also in our state, if you do bring a frivolous suit you pay for all those expenses.

    >If public prosecution were done away with entirely, the poor or disadvantaged who could not afford an attorney would be unable to access justice if they're the victim of a crime. even if the system allowed "pro se prosecution" it's unlikely those who can't afford a lawyer would know the law or procedure well enough to succeed, leaving lower income people as the victims of years of unprosecuted offenses

    I think there is room for public prosecution too for some of the reasons you listed, but the poor are already at a disadvantage now. The poor don't know the law well now, and pro bono work, done by the bar such as "Street Law" in my county if not state, and CLEAR. Help many of the poor right now.

    >Threat of criminal prosecution could be used for blackmail or extortion purposes.

    This is done now. The burden of the proof would be on the accuser.

    What is a horrible injustice is that bribery, blackmail, extortion, coercion is done now by public prosecutors.

    Grand juries have come under the control of prosecutors, contrary to what their function is supposed to be.

    Our current legal system has become modeled after the Nazi system of Gleichschaltung.
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
    "Because of what appears to be a lawful command on the surface, many citizens, because
    of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their
    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

  4. #4
    Regular Member Freedom1Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sudden valley gunner View Post
    Yes I am a believer we need to bring back civilian use of private prosecution. {snip}
    Well said.
    Provision for free medical attendance and nursing, for clothing, for food, for housing, for the education of children, and a hundred other matters, might with equal propriety be proposed as tending to relieve the employee of mental strain and worry. --- These matters obviously lie outside the orbit of congressional power. (Railroad Retirement Board v Alton Railroad)

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