Leigh Goodmark


Prosecutors are failing victims of gender violence as witnesses and when they become defendants in cases related to their own victimization. But it is questionable whether that behavior should be labeled misconduct. The vast majority of these behaviors range from misuses of discretion to things that some might consider best practices in handling gender violence cases. Nonetheless, prosecutors not only fail to use their discretion appropriately in gender violence cases, but they take affirmative action that does tremendous harm in the name of saving victims and protecting the public. The destructive interactions prosecutors have with victims of gender violence are not aberrations, or merely the poor choices of a few “bad apples,” but a result of overreliance on the criminal legal system to address intimate partner violence. These choices also reflect the extent to which prosecutors have embraced the stereotype of the “perfect victim.” The operation of absolute immunity for actions that prosecutors undertake in the context of their roles as advocates ensures that some actions—including arresting victims, misleading courts, and filing retaliatory cases against victims—are upheld by courts, though these actions might appear to be misconduct to those outside the justice system.



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