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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 2, 2016 11:20 AM
From: Senator Art Haywood
To: All Senate members
Subject: Special Prosecutor Legislation
Our criminal justice system is meant to be impartial and for prosecutors to discharge their duties free of personal or professional conflicts. However, recent events in Missouri and New York have shown that in certain circumstances, there is the appearance of conflict that can lead the public to believe that justice is not being dispensed fairly.

I plan on reintroducing SB 400 from the 2015-16 session, which would take review and prosecution of deadly force incident at the hand of police officers out of the jurisdiction of the local district attorney and put it in the hands of a special prosecutor.

My bill would require the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor whenever there is a deadly force incident and a police officer is involved. The special prosecutor would serve as an impartial prosecutor and remove the perceived conflict a district attorney might have prosecuting a local police officer.

My bill is not meant to punish an officer for discharging his or her duties. It is simply meant to provide neutral review of a case when an individual dies at the hands of a police officer and to restore the shaken public trust in our judicial system. It is to be expected that prosecutors and police share a close relationship and have to work cohesively together. This relationship is typically productive and is important for fighting crime. However, in the eyes of many in the public, when an officer is involved in a potential crime this relationship may cloud the investigator.

I ask that you please join me in sponsoring this worthy legislation so that we can restore the public’s faith that everyone in our society is on equal footing in the criminal justice system.

Introduced as SB400