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Thread: Can't sue for wrongful prosecution

  1. #1
    Senior Member dnf777's Avatar
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    Default Can't sue for wrongful prosecution

    A man spent 18 years on death row, coming within weeks of execution, when it came to light that the NOLA ADA withheld blood-typing evidence which proved this wasn't the guy.

    The SCOTUS ruled he cannot sue the DA's office.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/03/29/...ex.html?hpt=T2

    Oh well, guess a "sorry" and a pat on the back should suffice.

    I'm all for the death penalty in theory, but just can't support it when you hear stuff like this. How could that person sleep with themselves for 18 years knowing that an innocent man was rotting away on death row because of his hiding of evidence? Did the conviction get him a bonus? A newspaper headline in the Picayune?
    Last edited by dnf777; 03-29-2011 at 07:06 PM.
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    Senior Member Franco's Avatar
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    I just read the story at NOLA.com

    Can't help but feel bad for the innocent man that spent 18 years of his life locked up.

    Had he won the case, the DA's office would be out of business and they would have to go to the Feds for tax payer money to keep operating.

    Prosecution was 18 years ago under a different DA's office. They didn't name the the assistant in the DA's office that led the prosecution.

    The Da's Office under Eddie Jordan lost a case 6 years ago when he was the DA. The office was ordered to pay 20 million to several white woman who had been there for years and fired when Jordan arrived. Jordan, an African American, fired all the white employess in the DA's office when he took office.
    Last edited by Franco; 03-29-2011 at 08:01 PM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member luvmylabs23139's Avatar
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    Locally I guy cashed in big time and nobody in the DA's office hid evidence. He was cleared by DNA but convicted prior to DNA. He got cleared of rape in the 90's but only cleared of the murder after some else's dna was linked and then confessed to both the rape and murder in 2003.

    On February 19, 2007, the city of Winston-Salem settled with Hunt in his lawsuit against the city. Hunt was awarded a settlement of $1,650,000.[5]
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  4. #4
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    Here's the text from SCOTUS blog and the actual opinion.

    ****
    In a five-four opinion by Justice Thomas that was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Kennedy, Scalia, and Alito, the Court reversed the Fifth Circuit. The Court addressed the burden of proof for failure to train claims under Section 1983 against local governments. It held that a local government decision not to train employees about their duties under Brady v. Maryland may rise to an actionable policy, but the failure to train must reflect a deliberate indifference to the rights of persons. A pattern of similar constitutional violations by untrained employees is ordinarily necessary to demonstrate deliberate indifference.

    Justice Scalia joined the majority opinion and also wrote a concurrence, joined by Justice Alito, responding to the dissent. Justice Ginsburg dissented, joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Ginsburg read from her dissent from the bench.
    ****
    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-571.pdf
    ****

    The case deals with some fairly complex law instead of the primary school writing by CNN.

    As I read it, the Court found that the NO DA didn't specifically train employees on these issues as the correct handling of evidence should be a given under law. The NO DA admitted that there had been a single "Brady violation".

    It should be noted that we are talking about two difference cases. Thompson was convicted of robbery and it was in this case that the ADA didn't produce the evidence. He was later tried in a separate trial for the murder. It was the murder conviction that this case was over but the mis-handling of the evidence had already taken place in the earlier trial.

    As I said, it's fairly complicated as you can see if you read the opening paragraphs of the decision. There were 4 prosecutors in the robbery case and it is impossible to tell which of them created the mistake.

    Thompson sued over a section of US Code that goes back to the post-civil war days dealing with civil rights.

    He sued the DA and said the DA had the responsibility to train his people on the laws of evidence handling. The counter-argument was that since the DA didn't have knowledge that this violation occurred, he couldn't be held liable. From the opinion....

    "Connick argues that he was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Thompson did not prove that he was on actual or constructive notice of, and therefore deliberately indifferent to, a need for more or different Brady training. We agree."

    42 USC Section 1983 is a valuable tool in the cause against improper animal seizures so I follow it rather closely. However, it does not serve as an automatic whip against all erroneous convictions.

    Eric

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