January 31, 2020
Today, the Utah Attorney General’s Office joined the Statewide Association of Prosecutors and Public Attorneys of Utah (SWAP) at a press conference to announce the formation of the Utah Best Practices Committee and a list of new best practice standards, listed below. Utah is among twenty-one states to create such an initiative.
Listen to the press conference below:
The committee has and will function as a think tank for prosecutors to stay informed of key issues, developing legal trends and technology advances. Through its formation, the committee supports Utah prosecutors’ mission of being leaders in seeking justice for all those involved in the criminal justice system and of being public servants fully meriting the public’s trust.
“The criminal justice system is constantly evolving so this committee will help prosecutors stay ahead of changes coming from technology, science and legal developments, and will ensure Utah citizens have highly informed and educated prosecutors,” SWAP President James M. Swink said. “We expect that the Best Practices Committee will embrace a wide range of topics and will develop professional standards that will assist prosecutors as they ensure that the guilty are held accountable, that the innocent are protected from unwarranted harm, and that the rights of all participants, particularly victims of crime, are respected.”
Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said, “I am proud to stand with prosecutors from across the state to ensure the best technology and best practices are being used in our cases. As leaders of prosecutorial agencies, our duty is to make certain, as much as humanly possible, that each conviction is based on the truth and is legally and factually warranted.”
The list of new best practices is as follows:
- Developing office policies and making them available to the public
- Preventing improper bias in all prosecution decisions
- Implementing proper training for prosecutors
- The responsibility of the prosecutor to charge crimes
- When a prosecutor should file and when a prosecutor should dismiss charges
- Factors prosecutors should consider when screening and charging crimes
- Factors prosecutors should not consider when screening and charging crimes
- Prosecutorial responsibility to provide discovery to the defendant
- Prosecution discovery practices and the open file policy
- Obtaining evidence from law enforcement
- Redacting information (to protect private information) prior to sending discovery
- Reciprocal discovery—obtaining discovery from the defense to ensure a fair trial
- Duty of a prosecutor after a conviction to address post-conviction innocence
Best Practices Committee members include elected county and district attorneys, the Attorney General, and municipal prosecutors. Subcommittees will be formed to address issues requiring specialized knowledge, and subject matter experts will be invited to work on these subcommittees.
Watch the press conference below: