Associated Press

Former Pima County prosecutor disbarred for eliciting false testimony

May. 28, 2004 02:25 PM

PHOENIX - The Arizona Supreme Court on Friday disbarred a former Pima County prosecutor, siding with a commission that found he had violated ethics rules by knowingly eliciting false testimony in a capital murder case.

The Supreme Court ordered the disbarment after reviewing its Disciplinary Commission's recommendation in the case of Kenneth Peasley. The commission recommended the former assistant Pima County attorney be disbarred for intentionally eliciting false testimony in a capital murder case in 1993 and in a retrial in 1997. The testimony came from a detective with whom Peasley was good friends.

The use of false testimony in the trial of two men accused in a 1992 triple-slaying at a market in Tucson "could not have been more harmful to the justice system," wrote Justice Michael D. Ryan for the unanimous court. "A prosecutor who deliberately presents false testimony, especially in a capital case, has caused incalculable injury to the integrity of the legal profession and the justice system."

Peasley, a two-time prosecutor of the year, retired in January 2003 after the commission said he should be disbarred.

Peasley was admitted to the state bar in 1974 and conducted about 250 felony cases, 140 of which were homicides, the court said. Sixty of the cases were capital murder trials.

In a ruling overturning the conviction of one of the defendants in 2002, the Supreme Court said Peasley intentionally deceived the jury to paper over weaknesses in his case.

Peasley has 20 days to ask for a reconsideration of the decision. A call to his lawyer wasn't immediately returned Friday, and directory assistance said Peasley's number was non-published.

The ruling is available at:

Police/Prosecutor Misconduct
Truth in Justice