Should Prosecutors Be Sued by People They Frame?

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brian
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Should Prosecutors Be Sued by People They Frame?

Post by brian » Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:48 am

If prosecutors fabricate evidence, can they be sued for it?" See NPR's "Morning Edition," Nina Totenberg from Nov 4, 2009:"Can Prosecutors Be Sued By People They Framed?"
In related story:Court worries about stifling prosecutors
From the Report on the Nov 2, 2009 by JESSE J. HOLLAND of the Associated Press apparently the Supreme Court on Wednesday worried that allowing people to sue prosecutors who fabricate evidence in order to win convictions might chill other prosecutions -even if those prosecutors are doing their jobs correctly and honestly (Prosecutors are immune from prosecution, see Qualified Immunity below). The justices apparently seemed frustrated at the thought that prosecutors would or could knowingly send an innocent person to prison and escape any legal repercussion simply by claiming that they were doing their job.
The case in front of the high court involves two former Pottawattamie County, Iowa, prosecutors. They are being sued by Curtis W. McGhee Jr., and Terry Harrington, who were wrongly convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in 1978 for the death of retired police officer. Evidence showed the prosecutors failed to share evidence that pointed to another man. They denied that Gates was even a suspect.
A suit was filed against the former prosecutors saying that the prosecutors had them arrested without probable cause, coerced and coached witnesses, fabricated evidence against them and concealed evidence that could have cleared them. They claimed that they were targeted because they are black.
"We're concerned about the chilling effect on prosecutors," Chief Justice John Roberts said. For example, "this will discourage the prosecutors from becoming involved in the witness questioning process, at least not before the police are well on the way. And that is a very negative incentive, I would think," Justice Stephen Breyer said.
The court will release its decision next year. Access the U.S. Supreme Court oral argument in the case:Pottawattamie County v. McGhee, No. 08-1065.
See the Full Story
For more appellate litigation News, see How Appealing "The Web's first blog devoted to appellate litigation". By Howard J. Bashman.
Qualified immunity shields government officials from liability for the violation of an individual's federal constitutional rights. This grant of immunity is available to state or federal employees performing discretionary functions where their actions, even if later found to be unlawful, did not violate "clearly established law."
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brian
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 10:52 am

Re: Should Prosecutors Be Sued by People They Frame?

Post by brian » Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:11 pm

Justices, in Aftermath of 2 Murder cases Hear Claims of a Process Gone Wrong
New York Times, ADAM LIPTAK,November 5, 2009
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in two cases involving claims that the criminal justice system had gone badly awry.
In one, Iowa prosecutors are accused of fabricating evidence that sent two innocent men to life imprisonment for murder.
In the other, an Alabama prisoner attributed his death sentence to an appointed defense lawyer’s failure to present evidence at the sentencing phase of his trial.
In the Iowa case, Curtis W. McGhee Jr. and Terry J. Harrington, having spent 25 years in prison, were freed after the Iowa Supreme Court’s determination in 2003 that the main witness against them was “a liar and a perjurer.”
The Alabama case, Wood v. Allen, No. 08-9156, arose from the appointment of a lawyer who was less than a year out of law school to help defend Holly Wood, convicted in 1994 of murdering his former girlfriend. The lawyer, Kenneth B. Trotter, failed to pursue or present evidence that Mr. Wood was mentally retarded, though he had a competency report in hand that said as much.
See the Full Story
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brian
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Re: Should Prosecutors Be Sued by People They Frame?

Post by brian » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:06 am

Jan 4, 2010: Case over Iowa prosecutors' conduct is settled
By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A multimillion-dollar settlement on Monday ended the Supreme Court's consideration of a case that could have changed the legal protections that criminal prosecutors get as they do their jobs. The high court agreed to dismiss the case after Terry Harrington and Curtis W. McGhee Jr. agreed to a $12 million settlement with Pottawattamie County, Iowa, and two of its former prosecutors.
"Terry Harrington deserves this after his unwavering patience and perseverance as to his innocence," his lawyer Doug McCalla said in a statement.
See the Full Story
Access the U.S. Supreme Court oral argument in the case: Pottawattamie County v. McGhee, No. 08-1065
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brian
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 10:52 am

Re: Should Prosecutors Be Sued by People They Frame?

Post by brian » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:58 am

Another article on the prosecutorial malfeasance in the Iowa case of Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee, wherein the two men spent 26 years in prison for a murder that they did not committ. The case was before the Supreme Court to determine whether the Prosecutors should be sued for framing the men in the case. Several justices signaled that they were not prepared to shield prosecutors who knowingly fabricated a case against a suspect. The case settled for $12 Million.
See the Los Angeles Times article by David Savage: Prosecutor conduct case before Supreme Court is settled
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brian
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Re: Should Prosecutors Be Sued by People They Frame?

Post by brian » Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:38 am

Oct 6, 2010: USA Today: Prosecuting offices' immunity tested
In the USA you can sue ANYONE, well that is except for prosecutors. Even when prosecutors hide evidence that could prove someone's innocence. Even when prosecutors violate basic rules designed to make sure trials are fair. Even when those abuses put innocent people in prison.
A New Orleans man who came within a month of being executed for a murder he didn't commit is asking the Supreme Court to consider another aspect of prosecutorial immunity: whether people who were wrongly convicted can take local prosecutors' offices to court. The court's answer could determine the extent to which prosecutors' employers are also shielded if they fail to make sure attorneys comply with their constitutional responsibilities
The latest test of the extent of prosecutors' immunity began with a December 1984 murder and a separate carjacking three weeks later in New Orleans. John Thompson was convicted of both crimes and sentenced to die for the murder. A month before his execution date, his lawyers discovered that prosecutors had deliberately covered up a police lab report that showed he could not have committed the carjacking. Then they uncovered still more evidence that undermined his murder conviction.Thompson was freed in 2003. He sued New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick Sr. and his office for failing to train the prosecutors who covered up that evidence. Four years after Thompson got out of prison, a jury awarded him $14 million; now the Supreme Court must decide whether he can keep it.
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