Thursday, March 31, 2011

Supreme Court Rules Against Man Wrongly Jailed For 18 Years

On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court ruled against a man who had won a $14 jury verdict against New Orleans prosecutors after he spent 14 years on Death Row for a murder that he was convicted of after prosecutors failed to disclose evidence that proved his innocence.  John Thompson was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.  Prosecutors first tried him for an armed robbery as a way to keep Thompson from taking the stand in his murder case and then to use the armed robbery conviction as a way of having the death penalty imposed.  After he was sentenced to death, a private investigator working for Thompson's attorneys discovered that a blood test conducted in the armed robbery case showed that Thompson did not commit the armed robbery.  The prosecutors admitted that they had intentionally withheld that blood evidence from Thompson's attorneys.  As a result, the armed robbery was dismissed and he was granted a new trial on the murder case.  New evidence emerged at the murder trial and he was found not guilty of the murder.  Thompson sued the district attorney's office and a jury awarded him $14 million.  Thompson spent a total of 18 years in prison, 14 of them on death row.  The Supreme Court overturned the jury verdict and upheld the general immunity that prosecutors have from civil liability.  The decision came down along partisan idealogical lines with the 5 conservative justices winning out.  Apparently, the justices found that a prosecutor cannot be sued for not ensuring that those who work for him were properly trained and followed the law.
The case is Connick v. Thompson.

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