Actualizing Justice: Private Prosecution Regimes for Modern Social Movements

By Caroline L. Ferguson

The modern state enjoys a near monopoly over the prosecutorial system. Public officials, including local district attorneys, state attorneys general, and career prosecutors, enjoy enormous discretionary powers to decide who to charge, to determine what charges to bring, to make particular bail recommendations, to set the terms of plea bargains, and more. Rather than examining the broad discretion of the public prosecutor, this Note instead examines lesser-known private prosecution systems, where individuals, groups, and corporations bring criminal accusations.

This Note surveys the practice of private prosecution outside the United States. It then turns to look within the United States at the differing legal regimes that regulate private prosecution in the various jurisdictions that permit the practice. Ultimately, this Note asks what role private prosecution may have within modern social movements.

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