Wrapping it Up

Today is my last full day of research! I took the last week and change off, after completing the seven full weeks of full-time work to go to the beach with my family; it was a much appreciated break from all the reading and writing I’ve been doing as of late. I’m glad that I was able to take a break before wrapping everything up– today I’ve spent re-reading, editing, and organizing my paper. I just put the finishing touches on it. Not including works cited, I have about 19 pages of writing summarizing my findings. I’m really proud to have completed a final product; I’ve never written anything quite as expansive or involved before, and I’m glad that I have the document to pull everything together. The folder for the project on my desktop is a mess of literature, notes from the literature, interviews, outlines, and more.

My findings were, as I expected, not conclusive and straight-forward. I’m glad that I was prepared for this going into the project. When you’re not working with raw quantitative data, there’s not a neat answer to circle at the end like a math problem. I’m going to try and sum up what I’ve found in a quick paragraph or two– wish me luck!

I found that there are very few binding legal limits to prosecutorial power, and my conversation with local prosecutors demonstrated that those that exist are rarely used due to custom and lack of awareness. The prosecutor’s limits can be summarized as falling into a few categories; legal precedents from State and Federal appeals courts, limits from the presiding judge, limits from constituents, limits from the state legislature, and rational limitations. Appeals courts and state legislatures are unwilling to interfere out of respect for┬álocal autonomy, and the presiding judge’s ability to interfere is limited by court precedents and their willingness to do so is limited by the prevalence of the “Courtroom work group”– aka their familiarity with the prosecutors themselves.

Though it’s undoubtedly alarming to discover that there are so few practical limitations on what a prosecutor can do, I’m extremely glad that I added the interview piece of my project. Scholars and authors of literature in the field paint a picture of prosecutors with virtually unchecked power; interviews portrayed responsible and intelligent people fully aware of their own power and committed to finding just and legal outcomes.

Research has been a rewarding experience. Can’t wait to see everyone at the showcase!


  1. petermyer says:

    Hey there,

    I just wanted to comment on your ability to summarize such extensive and elaborate research in a few paragraphs. It’s an excellent skill and I understand, or at least think I do, a lot from what you’ve said just right there. Look forward to seeing you at the showcase!

  2. sethgreenspan says:

    Wow, I agree that it is alarming that prosecution power goes largely unchecked. I would hope that in our democracy, our most powerful tool for overseeing prosecutes is to vote out of office those we feel are incompetent. I could be misunderstanding the legal system but I thought most criminal prosecutors are elected, and I would like to seem more people become informed about the decisions of their district attorneys and see to it that they are doing their jobs fairly.