Bonuses for prosecutors, cont’d

by Walter Olson on March 28, 2011

More thoughts on why bonuses tied to prosecutors’ measured “accomplishments” — in this case, conviction rates at a Colorado prosecutor’s office — are such a bad idea. Very similar logic helps explain the historically prevailing ban on contingency fees for lawyers in most Western legal systems. [Tim Lynch, Cato; WSJ Law Blog; related earlier (Harris County, Tex.)](& welcome Above the Law, Truth on the Market visitors)

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03.28.11 at 8:42 am

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1 asdfasdf 03.29.11 at 4:50 pm

One problem with this rule is its interaction with doctrines of absolute prosecutorial immunity, or even qualified immunity. These civil immunity doctrines are designed for protection of the sovereign. Where sovereign agents can act for their own personal gain, the immunity doctrines protect more than they are designed to do.

Consider, for example, a prosecutor sued under 1983 and Brady. If the prosecutor stood to personally gain financially as a result of the Brady violation, the immunity doctrines are protecting private financial acts. The immunity doctrines are simply too strong and broad a shield to encompass this widened ambit.

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