Publications

Investigating Violent Crime: The Prosecutor’s Role – Lessons Learned From the Field

Author(s): Kristine Hamann, PCE and John Delaney

Investigating Violent Crime: The Prosecutor’s Role – Lessons Learned From the Field

Violent crime prosecutors do difficult and important work. In October 2017, fifteen seasoned violent-crime prosecutors spent a day and a half sharing their ideas about how to improve the investigation of violent crimes at a meeting sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice. Though the group had much in common, it was quickly apparent that there are a variety of approaches to their work. Some of the differences are rooted in statutory obligations, while others are based on limitations of funding or staffing. This paper provides an overview of the issues discussed, along with representative descriptions of the approaches and challenges faced by the jurisdictions at the meeting. The examples are illustrative; they can vary with the circumstances and do not include the approach of each participant’s office. The goal of this paper is to prompt further thought and discussion.

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The Benefits of Electronic Discovery

Author(s): Kristine Hamann, PCE

The Benefits of Electronic Discovery

Prosecutors are obligated to provide timely and complete discovery, particularly with regard to exculpatory and impeachment material. The discovery process can be complex and time consuming. Failure to properly record discovery documents provided to the defense can jeopardize cases and put prosecutors at risk of being charged with ethical violations. Thus, prosecutors are turning to technology to streamline the discovery process and to create a reliable record of what was turned over to the defense and when. Though the development of an electronic discovery system requires an initial investment of time and funding, it will significantly benefit a prosecutor’s office by providing accurate records, a speedier process and appropriate accountability for all parties.

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Secure in our Convictions: Using New Evidence to Strengthen Prosecution

Author(s): Kristine Hamann, Rebecca Rader Brown

Secure in our Convictions: Using New Evidence to Strengthen Prosecution

In May 2013, a Colorado man fails to show up to work. Concerned, the man’s boss visits his house, where the man’s roommate refuses to let the boss enter. The boss contacts the police, who launch a missing person investigation.
Using cell tower technology, police are able to approximate the missing man’s location in the hours leading up to his disappearance. Cell phone data also suggests that the roommate’s phone traveled to and from a remote area where, three weeks later, the man’s body is discovered. On the day of the disappearance, bank ATM records show repeated mistaken entries of the victim’s PIN before someone withdrew a large sum of money, and a bank surveillance video shows the victim’s car present at the time of the transaction.

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Police Body-Worn Cameras: What Prosecutors Need to Know

Author(s): Kristine Hamann, PCE

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Police Body-Worn Cameras: What Prosecutors Need to Know

As police departments across the United States embrace the use of police body-worn cameras (“BWCs”), it is imperative that prosecutors be involved in the uptake process as early as possible. The cameras will inevitably capture a great deal of evidentiary material that will be used in every type of criminal prosecution. Thus, systems and policies must be developed to ensure that this evidence is properly captured and delivered to the prosecutor in a timely and usable way. This can be a daunting task, complicated by the fact that in most jurisdictions, there are many police departments that send their cases to one prosecutor. Without coordination, the departments may purchase different technologies, implement different policies, and store the data in different locations. In some instances, the prosecutor may even be unaware that a police department has purchased BWCs. To start, the prosecutor should reach out to their police department(s) to determine whether they are planning to purchase BWCs. If the police department already has a program underway, it will be advantageous for the prosecutor to become involved in developing the program and in coordinating with other police departments in their jurisdiction.

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Combatting Crime on the Dark Web: How Law Enforcement and Prosecutors are Using Cutting-Edge Technology to Fight Cyber Crime

Author(s): Bradley Altvater, PCE

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Combatting Crime on the Dark Web: How Law Enforcement and Prosecutors are Using Cutting-Edge Technology to Fight Cyber Crime

Criminals are increasingly using shadowy corners of the internet to mask their identities and conduct illicit activities. Marketplaces on the “dark web” facilitate a range of criminal activities, including human trafficking and the distribution of child pornography. However, law enforcement and prosecutors are not helpless in the fight against these new criminal tactics. This paper will focus on two ways that law enforcement and prosecutors have utilized technology to find and prosecute criminals on the dark web. Part 1 of this article explains this new terrain of criminal activity by exploring the differences between the surface web, deep web, and dark web.

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Best Practices for Prosecutors: A Nationwide Movement

Author(s): Kristine Hamann, Rebecca Rader Brown

Best Practices for Prosecutors: A Nationwide Movement

A prosecutor’s core mission is and has always been to promote justice and to protect the community by ensuring public safety. Over the past 30 years, the way prosecutors approach this mission has evolved. In place of the old, reactive criminal justice model, prosecutors and police are using new methods and evidence to take a proactive, broader approach to preventing, investigating, and prosecuting crime. One way that prosecutors are working to encourage this innovative approach is through the development of statewide best practices committees for prosecutors. These committees, which have formed in 20 states, are statewide think tanks that assist prosecutors to identify best practices and to proactively address emerging issues that can improve their work and benefit our communities.

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Witness Intimidation: What You Can Do To Protect Your Witness

Author(s): PCE

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Witness Intimidation: What You Can Do To Protect Your Witness

Witness intimidation and witness tampering can occur in any case, from simple misdemeanors to homicides. It has a variety of consequences from the silencing of an entire community, to the murder of a witness, to the recantation of truthful testimony. Though witness intimidation is an insidious problem, there are strategies throughout the investigation and prosecution of a case that can help to keep a witness safe and reduce the impact of intimidation.

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The Prosecutor’s Evolving Role

Author(s): Hamann Greenberg-Chao

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The Prosecutor’s Evolving Role

Prosecutors have a core mission to protect the community and ensure justice when enforcing the law. Traditionally, a prosecutor’s role was a limited and relatively passive one – to evaluate and prosecute arrests made by the police But over the last forty years, there has been a dramatic transformation and expansion of prosecutors’ mission, to not only vigorously prosecute criminal cases, but also to engage in crime prevention, problem solving and community partnerships.

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Best Practices for Prosecutors: A National Movement

Author(s): Hamann Rader Brown

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Best Practices for Prosecutors: A National Movement

In place of the old, reactive criminal justice model, prosecutors and police are using new methods and evidence to take a proactive, broader approach to preventing, investigating, and prosecuting crime.

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Police Worn Cameras

Author(s): PCE CDAA

Model Body Worn Camera Policy for Police: An Aid for Prosecutors

Digital evidence includes evidence retrieved from cell phones, computers, surveillance cameras, and social media sites. PCE can provide information on how digital evidence is captured, preserved and authenticated for use in court, as well as information to assist prosecutors with addressing emerging issues, such as police worn cameras.

The model policy is created as a guide to prosecutors who are working with their police departments on the implementation of body worn cameras. The policy includes “Use Notes” that indicate the points where different decisions can be made and the considerations for making those decisions. Also accompanying the model policy is a checklist outlining the many issues that should be addressed in a body worn camera policy.

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