Under current California State laws, if a prosecutor withholds certain evidence during a trial, they can be punished by the State Bar of California and the judge working the case. This can result in them losing their license to practice and the judge can even remove that prosecutor or their DA's office from a particular case.
Proposed New Bill: AB 1909
With a potential new bill, AB 1909, Governor Jerry Brown will be deciding whether or not this type of misconduct can also result in criminal charges against the prosecutor, labeling this type of offense as a felony. While many district attorneys are not in favor of this bill, Attorney Jacqueline Goodman, who is the secretary of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice organization which sponsored the legislation, believes that Governor Brown should vote it into law.
Thoughts From Attorney Goodman
Attorney Goodman believes that this bill should even be a controversial issue and provided the following statement to the Los Alamitos Patch:
"Gov. Brown has rightly recognized the profound harm that has resulted from mass incarceration over the last several years. But unlike with other felonies, if signed into law, AB 1909 would hold prosecutors accountable for intentionally withholding evidence of innocence in criminal trials, resulting in fewer wrongful convictions and less severe prison sentences.
Unless the problem of prosecutorial misconduct is even more widespread than we realize, this new felony should have the effect of reducing the prison population -- indeed by culling the innocent from that population."
She also believes that trustworthy prosecutors should be some of the first in line to approve of this bill, which does not condone the "abuse of the public trust." There is also some dispute about whether or not the punishment should be so severe as to charge these prosecutors with a felony. Goodman makes note that the existing law in California already provides felony punishment for any peace officer that fails to provide corresponding evidence, therefore concealing the material.