Friday, April 1, 2011

Supreme Court Rules Against Exonerated Inmate Awarded $14M in Damages

A death row inmate whose case may be portrayed in a film starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as his two lawyers has suffered a defeat in the U.S. Supreme Court.
John Thompson was seeking to uphold a $14 million judgment obtained after the New Orleans District Attorney’s office withheld exculpatory blood evidence in his trial for attempted armed robbery, leading to a conviction and ramifications in a later murder case. Thompson had maintained that New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick had failed to properly train prosecutors about their duty to disclose evidence that would be helpful to the defense.
In a 5-4 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the award, obtained under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion (PDF). A district attorney may not be held liable for a civil rights violation for failure to train prosecutors based on just one failure to disclose, Thomas wrote in Connick v. Thompson.
Posted in ABA Journal Law News by Debra Cassens Weiss   More.

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