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Special prosecutor

From Academic Kids

A special prosecutor is a lawyer from outside the government appointed by the attorney general or Congress to investigate a federal official for misconduct while in office.

The reasoning is that the Department of Justice may have political connections to those it might be asked to investigate. Inherently, this creates a conflict of interest. The solution is to have someone from outside the department lead the investigation.

Archibald Cox was one of the most notable special prosecutors. He was fired during the Saturday Night Massacre. See also Watergate Scandal.

The term is sometimes used as a synonym for Independent Counsel, but under the former law authorizing the Independent Counsel, the appointment was made by a special panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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