John Thompson spent 14 years on death row in Louisiana because New Orleans prosecutors hid evidence that exonerated him. It sounds like the plot of this week’s episode of ABC’s Castle, except in the Hollywood story, the D.A. gets his comeuppance.
In real life, the “conservative” block of the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the jury decision against the prosecutor’s office:
Conservative justices prevailed in the 5 to 4 ruling, which shielded the district attorney’s office from liability for not turning over evidence that showed John Thompson’s innocence. […]
There is no dispute that one of Connick’s prosecutors did not turn over a blood test that would have shown Thompson innocent of one of the charges against him. But Thomas said that a single incident is not enough to prove liability for the district attorney’s office and that Thompson did not show a pattern of similar violations.
Yet according to the Innocence Project New Orleans, favorable evidence was concealed in a quarter of the murder convictions from 1973-2002. In 19 of 25 non-capital cases, the D.A. withheld favorable evidence; in the other six cases, the courts ruled that evidentiary hearings were needed.
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice issued a scathing indictment of corruption and “unconstitutional conduct” in the New Orleans Police Department.
Justice should be weeping.
- The ruling – pdf
- DOJ reoprt on New Orleans Police Department -pdf
- Mother Jones – 2010 expose
- The Innocence Project New Orleans – pdf
Sigh. WordPress engine didn’t like iPad post — the link to the forum was not created. Post “edited” to enable link.
Known for gnawing at complex questions like a terrier with a bone. Digital evangelist, writer, teacher. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill, wiredpen.com