The Open File Blog
/ March 4, 2015
Disturbing allegations have surfaced in New Orleans, Louisiana this week that an investigator at the Orleans Public Defender (OPD) may have been arrested in retaliation for exposing the alleged misconduct of a prosecutor in the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office. OPD investigator Taryn Blume, through counsel, has moved to recuse District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and...
/ March 3, 2015
The San Jose Mercury Times shared a stunning revelation last Sunday when it ran a story about an ex-jailer from the Santa Clara county jail who says he “routinely” planted jailhouse informants in cells with inmates awaiting trial in order to actively extract information that could be used against them. He insists that he did...
/ February 25, 2015
In a significant development in case we wrote about last fall, a judge in Philadelphia, responding to the Commonwealth’s appeal from his order dismissing three murder indictments, and barring retrial of the defendants, has issued a carefully reasoned opinion holding that double jeopardy protection applies when prosecutors intentionally and willfully seek to undermine fair trials....
/ February 23, 2015
Linda Carty has been on death row in Texas for over a decade. She is convicted of murdering her neighbor, Joana Rodriguez, as part of a plan to abduct Rodriguez’s infant baby. New affidavits from key witnesses, made available by the Houston Chronicle, allege serious prosecutorial misconduct on the part of the state. Significantly, the...
/ February 11, 2015
In a rare act of disciplining a district attorney for serial, office-wide misconduct, the Colorado Supreme Court’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel (OARC) has resolved an ethics investigation into Third Judicial District DA Frank Ruybalid by placing him on twenty-three months of probation, in what amounts to a plea bargain with a sitting chief prosecutor....
/ February 1, 2015
In the wake of an extraordinary oral argument in front of a 9th Circuit panel during which Judge Alex Kozinski suggested a prosecutor be tried for perjury and threatened to name state officials in an opinion that would “not be pretty,” the office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris has filed a motion dropping the...
/ January 26, 2015
Despite harsh language from the Sixth Circuit for a Hamilton County prosecutor who committed “flagrant” and “severe” misconduct, two recent reversals in a 1992 Ohio murder case have not received much media attention. Yet Gumm v. Mitchell is noteworthy for the Sixth Circuit’s withering criticism of the prosecution in the case, which suppressed a wealth...
/ January 22, 2015
In an opinion remarkable for its forthright criticism of a prosecutor’s “demeaning and belligerent” conduct toward a pro se defendant, the Supreme Court of Delaware has overturned the conviction and death sentence of a Kent County man for a 2010 murder in a bowling alley parking lot in Dover. Twenty-seven year old Isaiah McCoy chose...
/ January 15, 2015
In a case that adds yet another variant to the proliferation of news reports of people released after decades of prison owing to prosecutorial misconduct, a Philadelphia man serving life without parole has been released after 43 years, in an apparent attempt by prosecutors to forestall what could have been a judicial order for his...
/ January 7, 2015
In the ongoing wake of a St. Louis county grand jury’s decision not to hand down an indictment against Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, Monday saw two new developments in response to the behavior of the prosecutors in the case. St. Louis Public Radio reports that a bar complaint has...
/ December 29, 2014
In an unusual development in a case we’ve been following in Taos County, the Albuquerque Journal reported Friday that a judge has fined an assistant district attorney for “abuse of power” following his extensive use of subpoenas that were never authorized by a grand jury or judge. This is the latest disciplinary action in a...
/ December 19, 2014
When it comes to trying to shed light on prosecutors failing to disclose exculpatory evidence, District Attorneys’ offices are most often black holes of information, either silent or aggressively denying such allegations.  It is rare to get a public airing between prosecutors in a given office over what appears to be a practice of deliberate...
/ December 14, 2014
As was widely reported last week, an Arizona appellate court has dismissed with prejudice murder charges against Debra Jean Milke, who has spent most of the last twenty-three years on that state’s death row following her 1990 conviction in Maricopa County for the death of her four year old son. The Milke case is one...
/ December 11, 2014
According to the Observer-Reporter.com, the chief of litigation in Washington County, Deputy District Attorney Joseph Zupancic, has resigned his position in connection with a case we wrote about earlier this fall. In the lead up to a routine robbery trial, Zupancic failed to disclose to the defense the existence of two entirely contradictory letters from...
/ December 5, 2014
Episode 10 of “Serial,” the acclaimed podcast series created by narrator Sarah Koenig and sponsored by This American Life, offers useful insights into the ways that cultural and racial biases attach to cases in the criminal justice system. The episode went live yesterday, December 4, and is available at http://serialpodcast.org/. Though it’s best to start listening...