Progressive Prosecutors Play Coy With Evidence To Sell Plea Deals. Judges Aren't Happy About It.

Buta Biberaj (L.), Larry Krasner (R.)
January 11, 2023

Left-wing prosecutors at the forefront of a radical criminal justice movement often catch flak for refusing to enforce cash bail laws and sentencing enhancements for violent felons. Now, elected officials are slamming them for subverting another legal standard: providing evidence.

A judge scolded Dallas district attorney John Creuzot (D.) last week for his "widespread" failure to share evidence with defense lawyers. In Virginia, left-wing prosecutors have been kicked off cases and sued for concealing or withholding evidence in order to "sell" plea deals. And Pennsylvania lawmakers impeached radical Philadelphia prosecutor Larry Krasner (D.) for routinely withholding evidence from court proceedings.

These blunders often have deadly consequences, as prosecutors may be forced to downgrade charges or enter into lesser plea deals when evidentiary standards aren’t met. In Fairfax County, Va., prosecutor Steve Descano (D.) has set loose dangerous offenders after not being forthcoming with evidence—one of whom went on a shooting spree after his release.

Charles Stimson, a former federal prosecutor and senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told the Washington Free Beacon that the pattern of disregarding evidence requests is more a feature than a bug of the progressive prosecutor movement. Typically these attorneys—many of whom received sizable donations from the liberal billionaire George Soros—lack prosecutorial experience and have fired dozens of career prosecutors after taking office, often replacing them with a staff of ill-trained public defenders.

"They’re incompetent at being prosecutors because most of them have never been a prosecutor," Stimson said. "They’re hiring defense-oriented public defenders who aren’t used to turning over any evidence to the other side … They see the cops as the bad guys, the victims as invisible, and the defendants as the victims."

That notion is buttressed by statements and actions from prosecutors like Krasner, who has referred to himself as "a public defender with power." After taking office in 2017, he dismissed 31 of his prosecutors, including a number of veteran attorneys tasked with handling homicide cases. Krasner subsequently staffed his office with scores of attorneys lacking trial experience.

Murders in Philadelphia over the past two years hit an all-time high under Krasner’s leadership.

Albany district attorney David Soares (D.) told the Free Beacon he has advised fellow prosecutors to "steer clear of making those wholesale changes in the office" and laying off career staff.

"That institutional knowledge about those cases is so important," Soares said. "To clear house because of your political ideology … is to deprive the people of that community … but it is also depriving that individual who’s been victimized by a defendant that opportunity of receiving justice."

But faced with the incompetence of Soros-backed prosecutors, many veteran attorneys have sought greener pastures. Attorneys fled the offices of Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby (D.) and Chicago’s top prosecutor Kim Foxx (D.) after their elections. Former staffers ripped Foxx in particular for contributing to the Windy City’s recent crime spike and dropping charges against hate crime hoaxer Jussie Smollett.

Soros contributed more than $40 million through his network of public safety PACs to help elect prosecutors like Creuzot, Krasner, and Loudoun County, Va., commonwealth’s attorney Buta Biberaj (D.). Creuzot and Krasner won reelection in 2022 and 2021, respectively. Biberaj was elected in 2019.

When confronted about their failure to hand over evidence, prosecutors like Creuzot have passed blame to police departments, the Dallas Morning News reported. Creuzot said officers have not complied with the 2021 law that requires them to immediately disclose evidence to prosecutors at any point during a case. Dallas district judge Amber Givens (D.) said she and other judges have observed instances where evidence wasn’t turned over because prosecutors hadn’t "fully inquired" about case facts.

Soares said he’s observed instances of "abuse in discovery" that can occur when offices are "wanting to hide the ball from a judge who has to approve of that disposition."

The move hints at an ideological shift, as progressive lawyers have long sought to "reverse engineer and dismantle" the justice system, leaning on prosecutors to redefine broad swathes of the law through policy. Soros prosecutors in Northern Virginia including Descano and Biberaj have changed discovery policies based on a sense of their own political role, according to one former Fairfax County prosecutor.

"Their primary mission is to send a political signal as opposed to doing their job prosecuting cases, and part of that is providing discovery in a timely and complete fashion," Andrew Kersey told the Free Beacon, adding that these prosecutors shift the blame when cases don’t go their way. "The response from their public affairs officer is, you blame the judge, you blame the police, you blame the prior administrations, and finally, they’ll start blaming defense attorneys."

Biberaj and Descano are both seeking reelection this year amid growing dissatisfaction with their leadership from their party. Pennsylvania Senate lawmakers will weigh a vote to convict Krasner this month.