Case Details


Attorney General Control Of Litigation, Criminal Prosecution, Prosecutorial Discretion

Filing State



Pennsylvania Superior Court




In re Private Criminal Complaints of Rafferty, 2009 PA Super 53; 969 A.2d 578 (Pa. Super. 2009)


Attorney General’s refusal to prosecute was “policy determination” which is subject only to “abuse of discretion” standard.

Case Description

Appellant, an inmate whose parole was revoked at a hearing, filed three private criminal complaints against witnesses at the hearing and the Deputy Attorney General who acted as prosecutor, alleging perjury, obstruction of justice and false imprisonment. The criminal complaints were referred by the local District Attorney to the Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General declined to prosecute the complaints, citing lack of prosecutorial merit. The trial court affirmed that finding, and petition appealed. Petitioner argued that the Attorney General’s review of the complaint was not a “policy determination” as the trial court held, but was rather was based on a legal assessment of the evidence, and was therefore subject to de novo review, rather than review for abuse of discretion. The court cited a line of cases in Pennsylvania under which “a determination that the case “lacks prosecutorial merit” is a “policy determination” subject to the aforementioned standard of review.”