Federal prosecutors have immense power and discretion to decide when to bring criminal charges, what plea bargains to offer, and how to implement the federal government's legal priorities in their districts. While U.S. Attorneys take pains to emphasize their independence, we know relatively little about the extent to which politics colors federal prosecutorial staffing and decision making. The Politics of Federal Prosecution draws upon a wealth of data from 1990s to the present to examine the interplay of political factors and federal prosecution. First, the authors find that congressional and presidential politics affect who becomes federal prosecutors and how long those individuals serve. Second, the book demonstrates that signals of presidential and congressional preferences, along with local priorities, affect key prosecutorial decisions: whether to bring prosecutions, how to approach plea bargaining negotiations, and when to utilize criminal asset forfeiture to cripple criminal activities. In short, the book demonstrates that politics affects the behavior of U.S. Attorneys at nearly every stage of their service.
About the Author
Christina L. Boyd is an Associate Professor of Political Science and holds affiliations with the Criminal Justice Program and School of Law at the University of Georgia. Boyd received her Ph.D. in political science from Washington University in St. Louis and her J.D. from Wake Forest University. Her research examines federal trial courts, judicial diversity, the legal process, and empirical legal studies. She is the winner of the 2008 Midwest Political Science Association Best Paper Award, along with university teaching and mentoring awards. Michael J. Nelson is Jeffrey L. Hyde and Sharon D. Hyde and Political Science Board of Visitors Early Career Professor in Political Science, Associate Professor of Political Science and Social Data Analytics, and Affiliate Law Faculty at Pennsylvania State University. He studies the causes and consequences of judicial power in the United States and abroad. Ian Ostrander is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University. Ian received his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis and has also spent time working within the Senate as a 2012-2013 APSA Congressional Fellow in Washington D.C. Ian's research and teaching interests primarily concern American political institutions with a particular emphasis on executive nominations to bureaucratic and judicial posts, presidential policy-making and agenda-setting powers, the development of Senate procedure, and the importance of congressional staff. Ethan D. Boldt is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Policy at North Dakota State University where he teaches American politics, constitutional law, and judicial process. His research focuses on the criminal justice system, courts, and law. His work has been published in such journals as Political Research Quarterly, Journal of Law & Courts, and Criminal Justice Policy Review. He holds degrees from the University of Georgia (Ph.D. in political science) and Illinois State University (B.S. in criminal justice and political science).