A wonderful article from the Arizona Republic discusses prosecutorial misconduct in capital cases in Arizona. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but one little part in particular knocked the wind right out of me.
It discusses Noel Levy, a former “Arizona Prosecutor of the Year” who seems to have done his best over the years to put people in prison or on death row using every sketchy prosecutor tactic in the prosecution playbook. One particular case involved Ray Krone, who was sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit.
Krone was convicted and sentenced to die based on a videotape about bite mark evidence that the defense didn’t have time to review. At Krone’s second trial, Levy got another conviction but only a life sentence. Krone, who was innocent, spent another seven years in prison thanks to Levy. It wasn’t until 2002 that Krone was exonerated by DNA and another man was convicted of the murder. Krone sued and eventually settled for millions.
From the article, here are Levy’s thoughts about playing dirty pool and convicting an innocent man twice:
“I just did my job, and I did it ethically,” Levy said.
“I’m fully aware of my ethical obligation to present evidence. It’s up to the jury to make a decision.”
As for how he feels now that a man spent 10 years in prison because of one of those jury decisions, Levy answered, “I don’t look back and judge myself to say I did something wrong to Ray Krone.
“Did I commit some kind of sin? Should I go to confession and confess to you?”
Levy, who cheated and twisted and covered up, was just doing his job. He did it so well he was the persecutor of the year. It wasn’t his fault, it was that damn jury that he misled by cheating and twisting and covering up. They convicted Krone and sent him away for ten years. Levy was just the faithful public servant who made it all happen. Why pick on him?
Levy doesn’t look back and judge himself to say he did something wrong to Krone even though he most certainly did. He doesn’t care that he left a real murderer free to do who knows what for ten years because he cheated and twisted and covered up. What’s in the past is in the past; when it’s his past, that is. He only looks back when it involves what someone else may or may not have done wrong, and then he abuses the system to send them to prison or their death regardless of what the truth might be.
If you aren’t horrified by the “justice” system and terrified by the awful power some of the crooked players in it have over all of us, please think long and hard about Noel Levy and Ray Krone. Think about how Levy is fine making a joke about confessing his sins to a reporter and blaming the jury he tricked for the consequences of his own actions. Then think about Krone sitting on death row. Rotting in our terrible prisons for a decade.
Here‘s one of my favorite quotes, one I’m sure you’ve seen but that couldn’t be more fitting given the circumstances:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
Levy is fine with what he did, and he hasn’t learned anything. He’d probably send Krone to die again if he could. He’d probably send you to die for it as well. It’d be the duped jury’s fault anyway, and you’re probably just as guilty of something as Krone was. How are you different?
Levy is a good guy, and the bad guy is whoever he and people like him want it to be. The system is okay with that. Maybe next time some prosecutor refuses to dismiss a case, I’ll tell them they shouldn’t look back and judge my clients to say they did something wrong to the victims or make them answer for what they did. I just have to find a client who’s a prosecutor of the year for that to work. The rest of us are probably screwed.