Thieves say they "boost" or "borrow" items; robbers "jack" things. Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist's complaint that the courts should call prosecutorial "misconduct" an "error" (Viewpoint, 5-3) is a similar attempt to hide a misdeed with banality or wit.
Criminal defendants are not guaranteed trials free of error, but they are guaranteed trials free of prejudicial error. The question is whether an error may have made the difference in the trial’s outcome. If the reviewing court decides that it did, then a new trial is ordered. Prosecutorial misconduct may be prejudicial, but is not always found to be so.
Lindquist has expended more than $600,000 of public money in an attempt to keep secret records that have been ordered released. A woman was jailed for eight months without cause. When she sued for damages, new charges were filed against her. These charges were dismissed because of prosecutorial vindictiveness. Lindquist calls his vindictiveness vigor and would have his misconduct referred to as error.
G.K. Chesterton wrote that a vendor may sell arsenic as ale, but that it is still poison. The question is not what the prosecutor calls his conduct, but rather will he change his conduct.