It’s Not Just Rising Crime: Rogue Prosecutors Are a Huge Problem

COMMENTARY Crime and Justice

It’s Not Just Rising Crime: Rogue Prosecutors Are a Huge Problem

Feb 7, 2022 10 min read

Commentary By

Zack Smith @tzsmith

Senior Legal Fellow, Meese Center for Legal Studies

Charles “Cully” Stimson @cullystimson

Senior Legal Fellow and Deputy Director, Meese Center

Then-San Francisco police chief George Gascon stands in downtown Oakland, Ca., on Thursday July 8, 2010. Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

Key Takeaways

The very nature of criminal justice—to protect the innocent and increase public safety—is today undermined by a group of district attorneys.

They believe the entire criminal justice system is racist. It’s absurd, but they believe it.

This cancerous movement will continue unless and until the people most affected by these policies—black and brown inner-city men and women—say enough is enough.

The very nature of criminal justice—to protect the innocent and increase public safety—is today undermined by a group of district attorneys (Das) in America’s big, mostly Democratic-run cities.

These rogue prosecutors, and those who fund them, dress up their schemes with poll-tested feel-good language like “re-imagining prosecution,” and argue that “data and science” back their pro-criminal, anti-victim approach.

But that’s just nonsense when you see the actual results of their pro-criminal policies—urban disorder, mass shoplifting, open prostitution, and drug markets, and, in many cases, record numbers of shootings and murders.

The most prominent rogue prosecutors are George Gascon in Los Angeles, Chesa Boudin in San Francisco, Kim Foxx in Chicago, Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, Marilyn Mosby in Baltimore, Kimberly Gardner in St. Louis, and Rachael Rollins in Boston.

They all argue that most misdemeanors should not be prosecuted and push for the elimination of cash bail. This has led to a revolving-door criminal justice system where offenders—even violent offenders—are released back to the streets where police officers are discouraged from making arrests.

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And what’s the point of arresting someone, if the prosecutors in your city aren’t going to charge the criminals or even seek to detain them without bail? Presto: arrests go down, and rogue prosecutors have “data” to show that their approach “works.”

Yet the results of these prosecutors’ rogue, radical policies have been disastrous.

Last year, Philadelphians suffered through the bloodiest year in their city’s history. In 2021, 562 people were murdered on Larry Krasner’s watch. That’s far more than the city’s 1991 all-time record. And 2022’s homicides are already outpacing 2021’s record-setting numbers.

Last year’s murder total in Philadelphia is more than double the number of people murdered each year in the city only a few years ago, including the years immediately before Krasner came into office. Maybe he’s been too busy making his eight-part, fawning PBS documentary to focus on keeping the City of Brotherly Love safe.

Unfortunately, it’s common for these rogue prosecutors to be more concerned with making national headlines than with doing their jobs.

In St. Louis, Kimberly Gardner has been, according to local news reports, criticized for being “gone from her office a couple of times every month, [and] jetting around on someone else’s dime.” Her travel has been described as “prolific and problematic,” making it “difficult to get decisions made.”

Needless to say, crime in St. Louis is out of control. And Gardner is not doing nearly enough to combat it. In fact, a St. Louis judge last year dismissed murder charges against a defendant and ordered him released because the prosecutor from Gardner’s office went on maternity leave, and neither Gardner nor anyone else from her office bothered to make sure someone else was handling the case. The judge said Gardner’s office had “abandoned its duty” after failing to show up for three court hearings and failing to respond to a court order to produce evidence to the defendant.

In San Francisco, a local judge took the extremely unusual step of expressing his concerns about Chesa Boudin’s management of his office. The judge said, “I cannot express in any more certain terms my disapproval of the manner in which the office of the district attorney is being managed.” He added: “It’s time to really take care of business at home instead of thinking about the national or state stage. Individualized consideration of these cases, individualized justice requires no less.”

As the old saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. These rogue prosecutors frequently wind up on the same boondoggles in far-off lands together, often subsidized by the misnamed “Fair & Just Prosecution” organization, which promotes policies that are neither fair nor just—at least not to victims of crimes.

The Tides Foundation, which is supported by George Soros and other wealthy individuals, and the Open Philanthropy Project, which was founded by Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife, Cari Tuna, provide funding for this group and others to act as the central clearinghouse for many of the ideas parroted by the rogue prosecutors on the ground.

Essentially, a group of left-leaning billionaires discovered that they could get the most bang for their buck by funding rogue district attorneys who would simply refuse to enforce certain policies or laws they disagreed with rather than undertaking the much more difficult and expensive task of electing sympathetic state legislators to actually change states’ laws.

Efforts by Soros and others to elect rogue prosecutors ramped up during the 2016 election cycle where Soros contributed millions of dollars to political action committees supporting rogue candidates in at least nine states. The donations have continued since then, though the exact amount can be difficult to trace since the money is funneled through a variety of entities.

But we do know, for instance, in 2019 when Soros backed certain candidates to win their races in the Washington, DC suburbs of Arlington and Fairfax counties in Virginia, his donations accounted for almost 78 percent of one candidate’s primary war chest and 72 percent of the other candidate’s primary war chest, which were magnitudes larger than their opponents’.

But what are the goals of these left-leaning billionaires and rogue prosecutors?

The rogue prosecution movement has been honest in academic writings about their goals. One cheerleader for their movement wrote in a law review article that the goal is to “reverse engineer the criminal justice system.”

They believe the entire criminal justice system is racist. It’s absurd, but they believe it.

They are avowedly pro-criminal and decidedly anti-victim. In fact, they believe that criminal defendants—people who commit murder, rape, child abuse, abuse women, and the like—are the real victims.

As a result, once elected, rogue prosecutors don’t seek individualized justice. That’s part of the problem. They forget victims, coddle criminals, and usurp the role of the legislative branch of government by declining to prosecute entire categories of crimes. That is not prosecutorial discretion. That is prosecutorial usurpation and malpractice.

As part of their efforts to dismantle the system, they have made eliminating cash bail a primary goal. Though practice can vary from state to state, prosecutors and judges typically consider two factors when requesting and setting bail or detaining someone pre-trial without bail: First, whether that person is a flight risk, and second, whether that person poses a danger to the community. That’s how it works in the federal system.

If either of these conditions are met, bail can—and should—appropriately be denied.

But not for rogue prosecutors. They have adopted a nobody-gets-held-without-bail approach. In fact, they support releasing most defendants with little to no bail.

Guess what happens when you let a career criminal back on the street after he is suspected of committing a heinous crime?

We’ll give you four choices:

First, he goes to church. Second, he volunteers at the local homeless shelter. Third, he goes back to college to earn his degree. Fourth, he commits more crimes.

Of course, rogue prosecutors know that the fourth option is what often happens, but they don’t care.

In Chicago, police have pointed to the “skyrocketing use of electronic monitoring as a key factor” in the city’s shocking number of murders. To add insult to injury, the Chicago Tribune found that Kim Foxx, Chicago’s rogue DA, doesn’t hold defendants accountable when they violate their bail terms.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “About 400 people are charged every year with felony escape. During [her predecessor’s] last three years in office, she dropped 55 such cases, compared with 420 for Foxx,” meaning that if someone is released on bail with an ankle monitor, he can essentially cut that monitor off with little to no consequences.

Law professor and former federal judge Paul Cassell has convincingly argued that Chicago’s practice of releasing more defendants on pretrial release has significantly harmed community safety. And more to the point, how many lives were needlessly lost because of it?

We know that at least six needless deaths occurred because of the policies of John Chisholm, Milwaukee’s rogue DA. Chisholm allowed Darrell Brooks, despite his lengthy rap sheet, violent history, and an outstanding warrant, to post a measly $1,000 bail after being charged with several felony offenses that reportedly stemmed from him running over a woman with his car. It’s believed the woman was the mother of Brooks’ children. That event eerily foreshadowed his callous actions when he ran his car into a crowd at the Waukesha Christmas parade killing six and injuring at least forty more people.

Chisholm, hopefully horrified at the results of his own policies, now calls Brooks’ bail “inappropriately” low. But we all know why he said that now: he was covering his rear end.

He knew what the likely consequences of his rogue radical policies would be, and he went ahead with them anyway.

Back in 2007, he said, “Is there going to be an individual I divert, or put into [a] treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody? ... You bet. Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen.”

But the king of rogue prosecutors is Los Angeles DA George Gascon. We’ve written an entire research paper on all of his radical and dangerous policy proposals. He takes the cake when it comes to heartless, callous disregard for the consequences of his pro-criminal actions.

One minute (literally) after he took his oath of office, Gascon issued nine policy directives—diktats really—that would apply to virtually all potential cases, all incoming cases, all ongoing cases, and most past cases handled by his office.

In addition to directives saying he would not authorize his deputies to seek sentencing enhancements or the death penalty no matter how vile or violent the crime, he issued a directive eliminating cash bail, and another one related to his goal of not criminally prosecuting most misdemeanor offenses.

The “Unfairness of Cash Bail” subsection of his Pretrial Release Policy Special Directive claims that cash bail creates a “two-tiered system of justice” that lead to “unnecessary incarceration” and harms “individuals, families and communities.”

In fact, under this policy, he prohibited his deputy district attorneys (all 1,000 of them) from requesting cash bail for any misdemeanor, non-serious felony, or non-violent offense, regardless of the extent of a defendant’s criminal history.

As we explained in our research paper, “To make matters worse, prosecutors are not allowed to oppose a defense counsel’s motion to remove or modify a defendant’s conditions of release, nor can prosecutors oppose a defense counsel’s request to waive a client’s appearance at ‘non-essential’ court appearances, nor can prosecutors oppose a defense counsel’s request that a judge not issue a bench warrant against the defendant for not showing up.”

That helps explain why fourteen people who were arrested for their involvement in the smash-and-grab robberies have now been released under Gascon’s radical zero-bail policies.

The LA police chief explained that under these policies police can “book and process, identify you, and then your arraignment date is three or four months from now,” that the “vast majority of crime is committed by relatively few people,” and that “when the few people are constantly gaming the system to understand its weaknesses,” it allows them to “prey upon society.”

Of course, Gascon says that it is “exceptionally rare that individuals willfully flee prosecution or commit violent felony offenses while released pretrial.”

But while released pretrial or on probation, some criminals obviously do commit violent crimes. How else can you explain the actions of Marquise Hulse of Los Angeles? He followed someone home and carjacked that person at gunpoint while on felony probation for burglary, possessing a firearm, and evading arrest. And guess what? He was wearing two GPS ankle monitors at the time he committed the armed carjacking.

The divergence between the nonsense being spewed by rogue prosecutors like George Gascon and Chesa Boudin and the facts on the ground probably explains why calls to recall Gascon are growing louder and why Boudin actually faces a recall.

Unfortunately, rather than pushing back against the rogue, radical policies of these DAs, the Biden administration has chosen to reward them by nominating Rachael Rollins, the Suffolk County rogue DA that oversees Boston, to the U.S. Attorney—the chief federal law enforcement officer—in the state of Massachusetts.

The U.S. Senate confirmed here in a 50-50 vote on Dec. 8. Vice President Kamala Harris had to cast the tie-breaking vote.

This is the same Rachael Rollins who gleefully published a list of fifteen crimes you can commit in Boston and not face prosecution. Those crimes include distribution of any illegal drug; resisting arrest; and breaking and entering a home.

Never mind that, as we previously explained, “a violent career felon can break into your home, be in possession of cocaine, plan to distribute that cocaine to others, and resist arrest after you call the police, and all the charges will be ‘outright dismissed,’ so long as the reason he broke into your house ... was because he wanted ‘to sleep’ or was ‘seeking refuge’ from the cold.”

As Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) explained, Rollins previously said that as a prosecutor she was “going to battle” against the U.S. Attorney on “opioids, marijuana, and immigration.” The very same laws she is now required to enforce as the United States Attorney.

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Call us visionaries, because we warned almost a year ago that President Joe Biden would get steamrolled by the radical Left and nominate rogue U.S. Attorneys. Rollins is likely the first of many.

But really the rogue prosecutor movement, in general, should terrify us all. It’s a movement that fundamentally seeks to transform our criminal justice system—for the worse. It leads to lawlessness and increased crime.

These rogue prosecutors with the backing of a few left-leaning liberal billionaires usurp the role of state legislatures, refuse to prosecute entire categories of crimes they simply disagree with, coddle criminals, and forget victims and their families in the process.

It’s nice to see some in the media finally waking up to the fact that rogue prosecutors—whom they call “woke prosecutors”—are a huge problem. But this cancerous movement will continue unless and until the people most affected by these policies—black and brown inner-city men and women—say enough is enough, and influence liberal elites in those cities to stop supporting pro-criminal rogue prosecutors.

This piece originally appeared in the National Interest