Cambridge Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains:
Federal Justice System
U.S. Attorneys Office
Prosecutes criminal offenders on behalf of the U.S. Government. Because many federal crimes have mandatory sentences, and the federal sentencing guidelines leave U.S. District Court judges with little sentencing discretion, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is enormously powerful. In comparison to the local District Attorney’s offices, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is extremely well funded. The U.S. Attorney’s Office normally limits itself to prosecuting organized crime and major felonies, including drug trafficking, tax evasion, etc. Criminal defense attorneys routinely argue, with justification, that these prosecutors play dirty. Indeed, the Federal criminal justice system is so skewed in favor of the government that some criminal defense lawyers refuse to represent criminal defendants in Federal District Court. Worse, Assistant U.S. Attorneys have targeted criminal defense lawyers for prosecution.
A federal prosecutor is often the most powerful individual in any community, even more powerful than the judge. He can prosecute the judge. In fact, he can obtain an indictment before a grand jury against anyone he chooses…
~Gerry Spence, From Freedom to Slavery
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Attorney General’s Office
This office is charged with representing the Commonwealth in civil litigation. It also prosecutes criminal fraud, including medicaid and insurance fraud. Unbeknownst to most, the office’s insurance fraud bureau is funded by the insurance companies. The insurance companies actually have their own fraud investigative unit that works hand and hand with the assistant attorney generals. No other Massachusetts prosecutors are paid by the alleged victims of crime to prosecute the alleged offenders. It gives the insurance companies a frightening amount of control over our government’s most intimidating power – the power to imprison.
District Attorney’s Office
With the exception of two western Massachusetts counties, each county of the Commonwealth elects its own District Attorney. Massachusetts criminal defense lawyers recognize that the District Attorney’s Office is arguably the most powerful office of the county. The Middlesex and Suffolk county district attorneys’ offices employ hundreds of prosecutors. Additionally, each of these offices has its own detectives units. District attorneys prosecute the vast majority of accused offenders. In recent years, most of these offices have greatly curtailed the discretion of assistant district attorneys to reduce or nolle pros (drop) the charges. All major decisions are made by the District Attorney himself or by one of his deputies. Although the salaries have improved, most assistant district attorneys make considerably less than comparable lawyers in the private sector. Many remain, however, intoxicated with power.