Created By: Johnnytherock on June 7, 2011 Last Edited By: Johnnytherock on November 3, 2013

Persecuting Prosecutor

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Trope
A subtype of the Amoral Attorney, a prosecutor who will do anything and everything in order to secure a conviction, regardless of justice, the law, or basic human decency.

  • In some cases, Real Life prosecutors have an incredible amount of leeway in what they can do in their capacity as advocates for the state (in some cases extending to outright immunity, though this does not typically extend to administrative or investigative activities). In some jurisdictions, said prosecutors have arguably taken unfair advantage of this leeway.
    • One particular case was a man named John Thompson who was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to die; several prosecutors concealed exculpatory evidence in spite of case law mandating that they disclose it. He was freed from prison once this was revealed, and wound up suing the district attorney of Orleans Parish, Harry Connick, Sr., for failing to properly train his attorneys; both the District Court and Court of Appeals ruled in his favor (and in the case of the District Court, he had been awarded $14 million--one for each year on death row--by the jury; the judge added an additional $1 million to the judgment), but was unfortunately denied by the Supreme Court in a controversial 5-4 decision.
  • In Phoenix Wright (at least the first one), many of the prosecutors will do whatever it takes to win. Winston Payne being the most readily available exception, though not for lack of trying.
  • Cornelius Fudge in the fifth Harry Potter book is a combination of both this and a Hanging Judge. At Harry's disciplinary hearing for using underage magic, Fudge unsuccessfully tries (it is implied) to mislead Harry's defense counsel as to the time and location of the hearing so that he'll miss it, refuses to let Harry testify in his own defense, and does everything he can to discredit both Harry and the one witness who does testify on Harry's behalf.
  • The sixth season Matlock episode "The Foursome" features young and confident deputy DA Lauren Richmond, who has spent years studying Matlock's cases and uses her knowledge of his methods to deal him a surprising defeat at trial. That is, until her boss at the DA's office discovers that she planted several pieces of key evidence against Matlock's client to ensure a conviction, because she was convinced he was guilty and wanted to make sure Matlock couldn't Pull the Thread to get the guy off.
  • On Law & Order, Jack Mc Coy nearly crossed this line to bring down a drunk driver, because he lost a lover to a drunk driver.
  • On Suits it is revealed that Harvey used to work for a District Attorney like this. When Harvey realized this, he quit and went into private practice as a corporate attorney. This comes back to haunt Harvey years later when the DA is investigated and Harvey finds out that the DA's actions caused Harvey to convict an innocent man.
  • In season two of Harry's Law Harry is defending a man accused of murder in a high profile trial. The District Attorney is prosecuting the case herself and is shown to be using many dirty tricks to secure a conviction. Harry will have none of that and when she beats the DA on an important motion, the DA starts a personal vendetta against Harry with having Harry arrested being just the opening salvo.

Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • June 7, 2011
    Fanra
  • July 20, 2011
    Aielyn
    Two things - first, get rid of that "no relation" thing - no sane person would think that John Thompson is related to Jack Thompson on the basis that they happen to share the same, very common last name.

    Second, it's not that Winston Payne won't do whatever it takes to win, it's just that he's not very good at it. On the other hand, after events following his appearance in the first game, Miles Edgeworth rethinks his position, and becomes a much more moral prosecutor that refuses to falsify evidence, etc.
  • September 27, 2011
    surgoshan
  • September 29, 2011
    Bisected8
    @Aielyn: Technically Edgeworth never knowingly used falsified evidence. They were just rumours and he's clearly shocked on discovering evidence he once used in a trial was fake.
  • September 29, 2011
    azmod
    • On Suits it is revealed that Harvey used to work for a District Attorney like this. When Harvey realized this, he quit and went into private practice as a corporate attorney. This comes back to haunt Harvey years later when the DA is investigated and Harvey finds out that the DA's actions caused Harvey to convict an innocent man.
    • In season two of Harrys Law Harry is defending a man accused of murder in a high profile trial. The District Attorney is prosecuting the case herself and is shown to be using many dirty tricks to secure a conviction. Harry will have none of that and when she beats the DA on an important motion, the DA starts a personal vendetta against Harry with having Harry arrested being just the opening salvo.
  • October 21, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Persecuting Attorney? (pun on "prosecuting attorney")
  • October 23, 2011
    Xzenu
    • In The SM Judge, the villain is defined by this trope. The story is about a married couple where the woman is a masochist. When she finally dare to ask her husband for some BDSM and he complies, the villain finds out and try to get him concocted as a wife-beater. And no, it's not as if he believe that she's a victim, it's merely an excuse to destroy them both.
  • November 19, 2011
    Tambov333
    Bump.
  • November 19, 2011
    Bisected8
    • In the second season finale of Law And Order UK, Steele is accused of being this after it comes to light that his very first case resulted in a (very unsympathetic) man being wrongly convicted of murdering some boys (he was a white supremacist, but the real killer was a delusional religious zealot who considered the boys' actions immoral) when a witness statement identifying someone else was reveal to be suppressed. It turns out one of his subordinates did it and he's cleared, but he announces his resignation after the trial anyway because he still feels it was his responsibility.
  • November 19, 2011
    Irrisia
    Apparently this is normal and expected behaviour for troll prosecutors on Alternia. They are called legislacerators for a reason.
  • November 19, 2011
    Rapidwhirl
    An early episode of Fairly Odd Parents gave us Jorgen Von Strangle acting as the persecutor in a Kangaroo Court. Timmy: "Don't you mean 'prosecutor'? Cosmo and Wanda: "No!"
  • October 30, 2013
    JujuP
    Can operate in a Kangaroo Court along an Hanging Judge and/or be featured in a Joker Jury.

    Real Life
    • Vychinsky during the Moscow Trials.
  • November 3, 2013
    aurora369
    ^ Generally the Soviet judicial system was heavily lopsided towards prosecution.
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