The prosecutor in this case, Robert Keahey, was either well aware that Victoria Banks, the principle defendant, was incapable of birthing the “murdered” baby, or he intentionally chose not to look at evidence that would exonerate her. According to the American Bar Association's (ABA) Standards of Criminal Justice, the functions of a prosecutor specify that “(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.” and that “(c) The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict.” (ABA, n.d., Standard 3- 1.2) The ABA also has standards regarding the treatment of retarded defendants; Banks had “an IQ of 40” (Luo, 2002, p.1). To begin with, there were conflicting medical reports about the state of Bank's claimed pregnancy; Habib, the initial doctor to examine her, “wrote his conclusion in his records: Banks was faking pregnancy to get out of jail”(Luo, 2002, p.2) Hensleigh, the second doctor to examine her while in jail, did not conduct a full examination, but found traces of a fetal heartbeat. In both doctor's visits, Banks refused to grant permission for an actual exam. Despite the discrepancy, the DA did not regard a need for actual physical evidence. Keahey later told Hebert that ''There was no need for a blood test or anything like that. You could look at her and tell.'' (Herbert, 2002, para 7) Indeed, after the Sheriff had detained Banks after noticing that her “pregnancy” had disappeared, took her back to Dr. Hensliegh; “the Sheriff escorted her to the office of the second doctor to visit the jail and who found a trace of a heartbeat.
This second examination determined that there was no evidence of pregnancy. “ (Sherrer, n.d.,para 4-5) So despite the evidence that Banks had never been pregnant, had previously had a tubal ligation,and the lack of a corpse, Keahey decided to prosecute; “Not only have doctors confirmed that Victoria could not possibly have been pregnant in June 1999, but police also have not been able to find the infant's body. “ (Reynolds, 2002, para 3). The DA not only prosecuted Banks, but two additional people that suffered from retardation, Victoria's ex-husband Medell banks, and her sister.
“the prosecutor should then assure herself that she is morally certain that the defendant is both factually and legally guilty, and that criminal punishment is morally just.” (Gershman, 1993, p.522 ). Yet, as Keahey pressed on despite the lack of evidence of a crime, he based his case on the testimony if three retarded individuals who stories conflicted and changed with every telling.”Slobogin 'police often underestimate how easliy retarded people become confused, how suggestible they are, how eager most are to please” (Luo, 2002, p.3) This became evident with the lack of credibility in the stories the defendants were telling; ““the three suspects were either terribly confused or bad liars. Nearly every account they gave...differed from the last” (Ibid). Their testimony also suffered from the interrogation methods used by police; “Investigators admitted that they had lied to Medell and that the interrogation was aggressive. “ (Possley, n.d., para 9). Despite the ABA standards in dealing with the mentally retarded, despite the lack of corpus delecti without physical evidence, and despite the lack of compelling testimony from the defendants, Keahey continued the prosecution in an appalling display of a lack of prosectutal ethics. How did his ethical behavior compare to the judiciary that participated in this case?
At the start, the judiciary did not distinguish itself. “All three pleaded guilty to manslaughter in order to avoid possible death penalty. The judge accepted the pleas, even though he publicly doubted their credibility.” (Reynolds, 2002, para. 5). However, as the case progressed, judges reconsidered the case. At a hearing for Medell Banks centered on Dr. Steinkampf's medical exam of Victoria Bank's tubal ligation, Judge McPhearson considered that he “could give no weight to [Victoria] Bank's testimony”, but that Steinkanpf's test was “significant new evidence” (Luo, p.9). McPhearson did not overturn Medell's conviction for fear that a new trial might find Medell guilty, but lowered Medell's current sentence. Finally, as the appeals continued, “The appeals court last month ordered the guilty plea of Medell Banks thrown out, with three judges saying in written opinions that 'a manifest injustice has occurred in this case'." (Phillips, 2002, para. 4). From both a utilitarian viewpoint that prosecuting the innocent has nothing but negative consequences for society, and a deontological reflection on the duties of an attorney, the judges made the right decision. Medell and Victoria's sister were finally released, but Victoria Banks remain in prison. Her conviction for the “murder” of her baby was not overturned, but she was sentenced to serve time concurrently with time prison time she received for allowing her boyfriend to rape her daughter. So she suffers from the injustice of an invalid conviction, but is not serving additional penal punishment for it.
There is no evidence for a motive in DA Keahey's unethical prosecution of the Choctaw Three, so the question remains, why did he fixate on punishing these three? A person may suppose a motive from this quote from Keahey about the three defendants; I'm not going to let this die until they do” (Luo, p.10)