You may remember that in one of the lowest moments of the Roberts Court, a bare majority rejected a damage award given to John Thompson who was held in prison for 18 years for a crime he almost certainly didn't commit because the New Orleans DA illegally withheld evidence. Despite the fact that the conspiracy to withhold evidence involved multiple prosecutors over many years, under the supervision of a DA who was unable to even correctly articulate the relevant legal requirements, according to Justice Thomas there wasn't enough systematic evidence to hold the DA accountable.
Well, in another amazing coincidence the New Orleans DA's office is back at the Court for having illegally suppressed evidence yet again:
Donna R. Andrieu, an assistant district attorney in New Orleans, had the unenviable task at the Supreme Court on Tuesday of defending her office’s conduct in withholding evidence from a criminal defendant. She made the least of it. Her halting and unfocused presentation elicited one incredulous question after another. The argument culminated in back-to-back rebukes from Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Kagan said she could not understand why the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office persisted in defending its conduct. “Did your office ever consider just confessing error in this case?” she asked.
It should be clear, as this study explains in detail, that existing rules simply cannot held prosecutors accountable for even egregious violations of civil liberties. The apparent belief of the Court's Republican appointees that nobody should ever be held accountable for willful constitutional violations by prosecutors will continue to lead to injustices like this.
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