Prosecutorial Discretion and Republican Non-Domination

Dustin Crummett
2020 Ethical Theory and Moral Practice  
Prosecutors in the US legal system have great power to interfere at their discretion in the lives of citizens, and face relatively few checks on the exercise of this discretion. The vast scope of the criminal law provides a pretext for prosecuting nearly anyone. Meanwhile, other features of the legal system, such as the way plea bargains are structured and the doctrine of prosecutorial immunity, further increase prosecutorial power. And existing institutional restraints on prosecutorial abuses,
more » ... such as democratic accountability, the grand jury system, and the possibility of a selective prosecution defense, are mostly ineffectual. I draw on republican political theory, including insights from Philip Pettit and Elizabeth Anderson, to argue that this state of affairs gives prosecutors dominating, and therefore unjust, power over vast swathes of the public. I then survey some potential institutional changes which might help ameliorate the problem.
doi:10.1007/s10677-020-10122-y fatcat:xyu4z2k4vja2tisnjb72mv5cri