07 March 2016

SCOTUS Frees Wrongfully Convicted Man On Death Row

In yet another reminder that prosecutorial misconduct is rampant in much of the nation, the U.S. Supreme Court summarily reversed a Louisiana court that had denied post-conviction relief to a death row inmate.  The prosecutors had withheld a great deal of solid evidence in their control suggesting that the man was innocent, a violation of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brady decision.

They defended the conviction despite other strong evidence that was a product of ineffective assistance of counsel that other witnesses could have strongly established an alibi defense.

Judges Alito and Thomas expressed concern that oral arguments weren't held and that the U.S. Supreme Court should wait until a federal habeas petition was filed despite the fact that the issues were already clear and the fact that this man had been incarcerated for eighteen years or so too long already.

The six member per curium majority strongly rebuked both the entire criminal justice system of Louisiana and the dissent that wanted to put barriers in the way of correcting the injustices associated with the 1998 murder.

Examples of misconduct like this one, which also violate the professional ethical rules for prosecutors (although these attorneys are almost never disciplined for this kind of misconduct), show how eager some prosecutors and courts and conservative justices are for blood, and how inflexible they can be once it is clear that they have made a mistake.

In principle, Louisiana could retry the man, but it is highly unlikely.

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