Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952415 | Print ISBN: 9780761926498 | Online ISBN: 9781412952415| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Prosecutors are often called America's “chief law enforcement officers.” That term, however, is not sufficiently descriptive and leads to a lack of appreciation of the role of the prosecutor as an officer of the court. Prosecutors are public figures and can establish the tone and public perception of the fairness of law enforcement and justice administration. By whatever name, the prosecutors, without a doubt, are the dominant actors in American criminal justice. As the Supreme Court commented in Young v. United States (1987), “Between the private life of the citizen and the public glare of criminal accusations stands the prosecutor. [The prosecutor has] the power to employ the full machinery of the state in scrutinizing any given individual.” The prosecutors’ dominance comes from their deciding which charges to bring, whom to charge, whether to proceed to trial, and what punishment to recommend for those found guilty. The prosecution of crime ...