Hello DA Michael Graveley,
I am writing on behalf of the Harvard Law School National Lawyers Guild because your conduct in the Chrystul Kizer case is a cause of concern to us.
We call your attention to the American Bar Association’s ethical guidelines for the Prosecution Function, and in particular to Standard 3, 1.2, b-d:
(b) The prosecutor is an administrator of justice, an advocate, and an officer of the court; the prosecutor must exercise sound discretion in the performance of his or her functions.
(c) The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict.
(d) It is an important function of the prosecutor to seek to reform and improve the administration of criminal justice. When inadequacies or injustices in the substantive or procedural law come to the prosecutor’s attention, he or she should stimulate efforts for remedial action.
Your actions to date in the Chrystul Kizer case stand in grave breach of these professional responsibilities. Chrystul was a 17-year-old girl when she killed the 34-year-old man who had been raping and physically abusing her. She deserves empathy and support for the horrible abuse she suffered at the hands of a grown man, not criminalization. “Sound discretion” and “justice” in this case would clearly look like dropping the charges so she can move on with her life and recovery. You have a duty to improve and seek reform for the prosecutor’s office, not to go to extreme lengths to prosecute cases that do not belong in the courthouse to begin with. Your insistence on prosecuting the case against the plan language meaning of the safe harbor law is bizarre and negligent. It seems to come from a place of racist fear of Chrystul, a young Black woman, and should have no place in the administration of the prosecutorial power.
We encourage you to bring your conduct in line with professional standards, by interpreting the safe harbor law to provide broad protections to minor survivors of sexual violence, by dropping charges against Chrystul Kizer, and by developing just departmental policies for the handling of the cases of criminalized survivors of sexual violence and domestic abuse. This should be done post haste to avoid further damage to your professional reputation and the potential for ABA sanction.
The Harvard Law School National Lawyers Guild