One of the most impressive pieces of journalism that I've ever seen is currently showing on the San Jose Mercury News web site (and in their papers as well, of course). The paper did a huge investigation of 5 years of cases that took place in Santa Clara county in California, which has a reputation as a very tough law and order jurisdiction. The paper found widespread abuse of the court system, sparing no one - defense lawyers, prosecutors and judges. The look is harsh, unsparing, and incredibly well detailed. It comes out with some of the most extensive facts related to the criminal justice system - at every level from arraignment to final appeal - that I've ever seen. And it is disturbing.
Judges who have an extreme bias towards prosecutors, coupled with overly aggressive prosecutors who push the envelope of legal bounds and ethics whenever they can, and a relatively compliant defense bar, all overseen by a non-existant court of appeals, have teamed up to give substandard legal protections to those in the criminal justice system. This is a must read, I will post more on individual aspects of the series later. It is too extensive to address in one post.