Selective Prosecution

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Selective Prosecution

Criminal prosecution based on an unjustifiable standard such as race, religion, or other Arbitrary classification.

Selective prosecution is the enforcement or prosecution of criminal laws against a particular class of persons and the simultaneous failure to administer criminal laws against others out-side the targeted class. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that selective prosecution exists where the enforcement or prosecution of a Criminal Law is "directed so exclusively against a particular class of persons … with a mind so unequal and oppressive" that the administration of the criminal law amounts to a practical denial of Equal Protection of the law (United States v. Armstrong, 517 U.S. 456, 116 S. Ct. 1480, 134 L. Ed. 2d 687 [1996], quoting yick wo v. hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 6 S. Ct. 1064, 30 L. Ed. 220 [1886]). Specifically, police and prosecutors may not base the decision to arrest a person for, or charge a person with, a criminal offense based on "an unjustifiable standard such as race, religion, or other arbitrary classification" (United States v. Armstrong, quoting Oyler v. Boles, 368 U.S. 448, 82 S. Ct. 501, 7 L. Ed. 2d 446 [1962]).

Selective prosecution is a violation of the constitutional guarantee of equal protection for all persons under the law. On the federal level, the requirement of equal protection is contained in the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment extends the prohibition on selective prosecution to the states. The equal protection doctrine requires that persons in similar circumstances must receive similar treatment under the law.

Selective prosecution cases are notoriously difficult to prove. Courts presume that prosecutors have not violated equal protection requirements, and claimants bear the burden of proving otherwise. A person claiming selective prosecution must show that the prosecutorial policy had a discriminatory effect and that it was motivated by a discriminatory purpose. To demonstrate a discriminatory effect, a claimant must show that similarly situated individuals of a different class were not prosecuted. For example, a person claiming selective prosecution of white Protestants must produce evidence that shows that white Protestants were prosecuted for a particular crime and that persons outside this group could have been prosecuted but were not.

The prohibition of selective prosecution may be used to invalidate a law. In Yick Wo v. Hopkins, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a San Francisco ordinance that prohibited the operation of laundries in wooden buildings. San Francisco authorities had used the ordinance to prevent Chinese from operating a laundry business in a wooden building. Yet the same authorities had granted permission to eighty individuals who were not Chinese to operate laundries in wooden buildings. Because the city enforced the ordinance only against Chinese-owned laundries, the Court ordered that Yick Wo, who had been imprisoned for violating the ordinance, be set free.


Criminal Procedure.

References in periodicals archive ?
Though contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri had ruled early on that the selective prosecution of Al-Jadeed could not be used as a viable defense since no complaints were brought against the other media agencies, critics of the tribunal have questioned why the court decided to prosecute Al-Jadeed while Western reporters who have published sensitive details about the trial have not drawn the same level of scrutiny.
Selective prosecution is notoriously difficult to prove in court--the judge in D'Souza's case flatly rejected his claim to have been targeted unfairly--but few doubt that it occurs.
The EU is concerned at what appears to be selective prosecution against Mr Anwar and the hasty conclusion of the appeals procedure which directly impacts on his participation in the democratic process, It said.
We have yet to end selective prosecution and discrimination in sentencing.
This isn't about usantidoping wanting to clean up cycling - rather it's just plain ol' selective prosecution that reeks of vendetta," he added.
EU members and the United States expressed alarm after her arrest, saying they were concerned about a selective prosecution by the Yanukovych-led authorities of their foes.
It's not about racial profiling, selective prosecution or xenophobia.
The US Secretary of State said Mikhail Khodorkovsky's conviction raised "serious questions about selective prosecution and about the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations".
In spite of that fact, collecting data on race remains critically important because, as the Supreme Court's selective prosecution cases make clear, without data, a defendant cannot prevail on a selective prosecution claim.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led a chorus of political figures in the United States and Europe in condemning the verdict, saying that it raised "serious questions about selective prosecution and about the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations".
Clinton said the conviction raised "serious questions about selective prosecution and about the rule of

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