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I have become a big fan of the new TV series Raising the Bar.  It seems that the prosecutors in that show don’t really care if the people they are trying to convict are innocent or not.  It seems as though the defending attorney goes more out of their way to seek justice than the prosecutors.  I can understand the defending attorney’s reason for looking into the cases of the people they represent, but the duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict.  Also the duty of a defending attorney is to seek justice for their client, not to help their client get away with breaking the law.  How accurate is this show that shows both the lives of defenders and prosecutors?

I have never seen the show, but based on your description, I suspect it is not very accurate.

How far is a prosecutor allowed to go in order to seek justice?  Are prosecutors allowed to research the people they prosecute?  Are they only allowed to go by what the detectives tell them and what is placed in a file of the defendant or are they allowed to get involved to seek the truth themselves?

They can seek additional facts and investigate further.  Many DA offices will probably have in-house investigators (often ex-police).

How far can a defending attorney go to prove the innocence of their client, and how far can a prosecutor if they are allowed to investigate?

They can each go up to "the line," whatever that is in any given situation.  Defense attorneys are more expected to push the line.  Prosecutors should not.

I understand that most prosecutors wouldn’t investigate all charges of the people they prosecute because of their heavy work load and due to the fact that the defendant has the right to a speedy trial and investigating all cases would make that right difficult.

You're right that prosecutors probably don't personally investigate all cases, but that's because most of them plea out before going to trial.  "Speedy" is not that speedy, though, so prosecutors can usually do additional investigation without hindering the right.

What happens if a prosecutor discovers that a defendant is innocent, one would think that the prosecutor is required by law and a code of ethics to disclose the information to the defending attorney and prepare for the case to be dismissed and the defendants acquitted of all charges even though the prosecutor will lose his case.  In the show Raising the Bar you find prosecutors ignoring evidence and even going as far as to hide evidence, even cause witnesses unable to show (a witness was deported) in order to win a case regardless of the defendants innocence.  It seems that all a prosecutor wants to do is win as many cases as possible regardless of the true guilt or innocence of the defendant.

Yep, the show is BS.  Prosecutors can't do what you've described.  Most are not zealous psychos.  They want to do the right thing (i.e., find the right criminal).  They are also required to turn over exculpatory evidence.

If a prosecutors job is to seek justice how is he doing that if he goes by the words in a file.  How can he know the truth about someone he is prosecuting?  How can the prosecutor know if the investigators lied or tampered with evidence?

Prosecutors need to be able to trust the police and investigators.  Prosecutors do the best they can with the evidence they have.  Witnesses on both sides will lie.  Lawyers on both sides can't knowingly present false evidence.  But sometimes the line between knowing and suspecting can be blurry.  So, too, can the line between suspecting and having a gut feeling.

If a prosecutor learns that he or she aided in the conviction of an innocent person, how can they ever live with themselves especially if the person served time or was put to death?

Good question, but it undoubtedly happens.  People aren't omniscient.  They do the best they can with the information available.  We trust juries to find the truth beyond a reasonable doubt.

What if a defending attorney finds that his client is guilty of what they were charged?  What if the defending attorney learns that his client lied to him, what is he required them?  Are they to turn the guilty defendant over to the courts and disclose what they learned or are they required to practice confidentiality?

It depends on the situation, but usually confidentiality is required.  This is why I said earlier that prosecutors and defense attorneys have different lines; they have different roles.  Defense attorneys are required to zealously defend their clients.  Prosecutors are not required to be zealous, and I would argue they should never be zealous; simply seek the best or most just result.

I know that the judicial system is set up the way it is to be fair and impartial, and that it’s not a perfect system even though it works in most cases.  How about when the system fails because of manipulation or a mistake?  How can justice be served by all people if the rich can hire expensive attorneys and the common person only gets a public defender that may or may not care about him?

There are some safeguards against mistake or manipulation.  For example, an attorney who presents evidence (such as a witness's testimony) and then leans that the evidence was false has a duty to inform the court.

Public defenders typically care a lot.  It takes a special person to be able to work a job defending people who almost always hate your guts (and are usually guilty anyway).  Public defenders do the best they can with the resources available.  But public defenders are usually very capable lawyers.  I have seen many public defenders in action, and they are often better than retained counsel (private lawyers).  Think of public defenders simply as prosecutors on the other side.  They get paid about the same, and they do similar work.  Both jobs are desired.  Often DA jobs are more desirous, though, because you (1) don't necessarily have a "client" (although you have victims), and (2) have more opportunity to "do good" (because prosecutors have wide discretion about whether to prosecute and what plea deal to make).  But you will find great attorneys on both sides.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: 153/3.65
« on: December 19, 2009, 08:31:05 AM »
I'm planning on app'ing South Texas, Texas Wesleyan, Loyola New Orleans, perhaps OU, Texas Tech, etc. However, all of this is still relatively new to me, so I was wondering if there was anyone who could give me further guidance with regards to where I should apply. Would it behoove me to try and stay local? I'm from Houston, but I'd love to go out of state. Like I said, I'm really new so any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

Tech would be a great option because of low resident tuition, but you're unlikely to be accepted.

I would try to avoid significant debt and focus on tier 3/4 schools across the country that are likely to give you a full ride.  You can use the UGPA/LSAT search feature at to see schools that give you a high probability of acceptance.  Look at schools where your LSAT is at least 1-2 points above the median that also give a good number of full tuition scholarships (5%+).  You can find the median LSAT and scholarship info by looking up individual schools here:

This is a good article for someone in your position:

Edit:  Staying in Texas would generally be better than going out of state if you want to practice in Texas.  But if you have options outside the state that are more financially advantageous, then I wouldn't worry so much about going out of state.  You could spend your summers working in Texas (or wherever you want to work).  This will show future employers that you are serious about returning (and you can explain your foray into another state by listing your scholarship on your resume).

Current Law Students / Re: Question about Prof Resp/Legal Ethics,...
« on: December 17, 2009, 06:00:00 PM »
Too late for your exam, but I think there is no privilege.  Lawyer B is not a person who can assert the privilege because Lawyer B did not make a statement in the lawyer-client relationship with the purpose of obtaining legal advice.  Now, if Lawyer B told Lawyer A about B's misconduct for the purpose of obtaining counsel from A, there would be a privilege.  But there is no A-C relationship here between A and B.  The fact that A overhears B doesn't create a privilege.

Why do you care?

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Most school for the least money
« on: December 13, 2009, 11:53:14 AM »
As Ninja said, we need to know your LSAT/GPA.  Many schools will give full scholarships, so just looking at the tuition alone will not give you a very good idea of where you can go for cheap/free.  Your LSAT/GPA will determine where you can go for cheap/free.

You mentioned Thomas Jefferson costs $35K, but according to the chart at the end of this article, more than 9% of the students there have full scholarships.  Recent data from the ABA, however, says less than 3% of students have full scholarships.  For recent data on schools, go to

Current Law Students / Re: Practice law in federal courts outside state
« on: December 13, 2009, 11:45:20 AM »
You can move for pro hac vice admission in a court located in a state that you are not licensed to practice in.

But I think many federal courts will allow you to practice before that court if you apply for admission specifically to that court.  If you do some googling, you will find some of these forms.  You can also just call the clerk's office of the court you want to be admitted to and ask them.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: DO NOT GO TO PACE LAW SCHOOL!
« on: December 13, 2009, 11:36:16 AM »
Stay positive and keep looking.  I got shut out of OCI last year, and I ended up splitting my 2L summer with a judge and a government agency, both of which I knew had a 99.9% chance of not leading to a permanent offer.

I ended up getting a job offer over the summer from a different employer.  There are jobs out there outside of biglaw.  With law review on your resume, you have a good leg up.  Just be sure to search aggressively; you can't sit back and think things will fall into your lap (e.g., OCI).

Good luck.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Houston Law Center vs. Tulane
« on: November 27, 2009, 10:02:10 AM »
I'd recommend only going outside Texas if you're getting a much better price than Houston/SMU/Baylor (or going to a national school, but that's not an option).

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Why did Duke send me a waiver? o.O
« on: October 31, 2009, 09:43:57 PM »
Yes, by encouraging students to apply so that the school can reject them, the school would increase its acceptance rate--a factor in the U.S. News rankings.  This strategy is not unheard of.  But if you self-identified with LSAC as an URM, then you might actually have a shot at acceptance.


Undergrades would be better served to take some law classes (con law especially) then get to know some attorneys and find out what law is really like.

I was in agreement until you got to this point. Undergrad conlaw gives you a completely distorted picture of what law practice is like (at lest if it's anything like the one I took).

Haha.  Yeah, undergrad law courses don't really portray what the practice of law is like; maybe shadowing attorneys, though.  I think the value of undergrad law courses really depends on the school/professor.  I had a really great undergrad conlaw course.  It was certainly more BLL-focused than law school conlaw, and the exam was not full of issue-spotting hypos, but we had to turn in case briefs, be prepared for cold-calling, write an appellate brief (pretty crappy, but it was IRAC format), and do moot court arguments with local attorneys as judges.

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