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The Supreme Court Stands Tall for Misbehaving Prosecutors by Scott Horton

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Jefferson23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 10:46 AM
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The Supreme Court Stands Tall for Misbehaving Prosecutors by Scott Horton
* Another damaging decision, 5 to 4 pushes accountability out the door for prosecutors, even when a man's life hangs
in the balance. The compensation awarded has now been overturned by the usual suspects on the SCOTUS. Worth reading is
Ginsburg take on the decision.


Can prosecutors press a criminal case against a man by suppressing the existence of forensic evidence that shows him to be innocent, without themselves being held accountable? Yes, says the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 decision (PDF), in a ruling by Justice Clarence Thomas. Its a complicated story, but the core issue is fairly straightforward: prosecutorial accountability for serious misconductin this case, misconduct that put an innocent man on death row, and at one point within days of execution.

In 1985, John Thompson was arrested and charged with two separate crimes: a murder and an attempted armed robbery that took place three weeks later in New Orleans. Prosecutors opted for two separate trials, beginning with the robbery. Their thinking was likely tactical. If they got a conviction at the robbery trial, they could use that conviction against him at the murder trial, improving their chances at obtaining a conviction.

Two days before Thompsons robbery trial was slated to begin, however, the prosecutor handling the case got a crime lab report showing that the perpetrator had left blood behind at the scene, and the blood was not Thompsons. The law required the prosecutor to turn this report over to Thompsons attorneys. Instead, he suppressed it and pressed forward with his case. The jury found Thompson guilty of the robbery. That conviction had a decisive impact on the second trial, too. Thompson was warned that if he testified in his own defense, the prosecution would be entitled to inform the jury of the robbery conviction and argue that he was not a truthful or reliable witness. Thompson therefore did not testify. The jury, disbelieving his alibi for the murder, perhaps because he failed to testify in support of it, convicted him and gave him a death sentence.

Just before Thompson was set to be executed in 1999, his attorney learned of the suppressed lab report and the grave misconduct of the prosecutor. Armed with this, Thompsons convictions for both the robbery and the murder were overturned. When he was retried for murder in 2003, a jury, armed with much more testimony and evidence, concluded that he was innocent.

remainder in full: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2011/04/hbc-90008045
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rurallib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 11:44 AM
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1. I assume Kennedy was the 5th vote?
I thought he had half a brain unlike the other 4 (Thomas, Scalia, Alito and Roberts).
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Jefferson23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 04:57 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Correct, it was Kennedy. Sometimes he does use his brain, but not always imo.
THOMAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS,
C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, and ALITO, JJ., joined. SCALIA, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined. GINSBURG, J., filed a dis-senting opinion, in which BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-571.pdf
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TheKentuckian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 05:49 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. No, he is a far right arch-conservative but appear somewhat reasonable
compared to the fire breathing fascists.

Under no circumstances should Kennedy be seen or portrayed as even approaching moderate, though sometimes he acts as a control for the craziest of the crazy shit. That old fucker is way to the right of Reagan.
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fishwax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 01:17 PM
Response to Original message
2. wow.
:banghead: :nuke:
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