Across Latin America, many former presidents have faced criminal prosecutions on corruption charges, with widely varied outcomes. As with an impeachment, law and politics intersect in the prosecution of a president. In this essay, I examine this nexus by mapping the actions of agents who mobilise to influence how the justice system processes presidential prosecutions: first, accountability actors located in state-based institutions and civil society; second, partisan actors in the executive and legislative branches; and third, defendants, and their partisan and civil society supporters. This study argues that variations in the make-up, resources and alignment of these sets of actors fundamentally shape the trajectory of legal cases. Proceedings against three former presidents of Ecuador are analysed: Abdalá Bucaram, Jamil Mahuad and Gustavo Noboa.