The Open File Blog
/ May 21, 2015
In what is only the latest in a long list of troubles in the Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney’s office, a judge this week dismissed a felony assault charge, saying the prosecutor had “deliberately” and “improperly” kept medical records from the defense, which the judge herself had twice ordered to be fully disclosed. More, however, than...
/ May 13, 2015
In an exceedingly rare development in the world of district attorneys offices, a 33 year veteran of the Pierce County, Washington prosecutor’s office has filed a whistleblower complaint against District Attorney Mark Lindquist, alleging systematic and wide-ranging misconduct, mismanagement, and illegal politicizing of the office. According to the News Tribune, which has the full story,...
/ May 7, 2015
It is rare that an election for a local district attorney has such clear, national implications as the one that will unfold this summer and fall in Caddo Parish, Louisiana.  Encompassing Shreveport and its surrounding towns and villages, Caddo has a population of a little over two hundred and fifty thousand, but an outsized role,...
/ May 5, 2015
A little noted decision from the District of Columbia Court of Appeals has held that the rule governing prosecutors’ ethical responsibility to disclose exculpatory evidence is significantly broader than the legal standard enshrined in the Brady line of cases. In In Re Andrew J. Kline, the court last month held that “Rule 3.8 (e) [of...
/ April 28, 2015
Court House News Service reports that a Utah Court of Appeals has overturned the sexual assault convictions of two Salt Lake City men after the prosecutor encouraged the jury to protect the victim and women in general from an implied, future attack by the two men.  David Akok was convicted of rape, while his co-defendant...
/ April 23, 2015
In a classic example of the abuse of jailhouse informant testimony, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the Georgia Supreme Court has overturned the 2007 arson and felony-murder convictions of a Haralson County man. Justin Chapman was charged with setting a fire at his duplex in Bremen, a fire in which an elderly neighbor died,...
/ April 22, 2015
A hearing committee of the Disciplinary Board of the New Mexico Supreme Court has recommended that the Board dismiss charges of misconduct against the Taos District Attorney and one of his assistants, according to the Albuquerque Journal. In a case that we have been following (read our full description of the case here), a “specification...
/ April 17, 2015
Late last month, three Cuyahoga County men who have spent 19 years in prison for murder were freed on bond and granted a new trial.  Attorneys at the Ohio Innocence Project had discovered a trove of exculpatory evidence that had never been disclosed to the original defense counsel.  The judge in the case called the...
/ April 14, 2015
In a case that highlights the dubious role of “expert” testimony on “gang behavior,” the Michigan Supreme Court has let stand the reversal of a murder conviction secured largely on the basis of such evidence.  Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert wanted the high court to overturn an appellate ruling that found a police investigator’s “expert”...
/ April 1, 2015
The Department of Justice has released a report on its internal investigation into the online commenting scandal which resulted in U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s resignation and the overturning of convictions against five New Orleans police officers in the Danziger Bridge case. Nola.com reports: A scathing, 157-page report — completed in 2013 but released this week...
/ March 24, 2015
A reporter for the Shreveport Times, Maya Lau, has just posted quotes from an interview with Caddo Parish assistant district attorney Dale Cox  on Twitter about exoneree Glenn Ford and the death penalty. Cox, who has won four death sentences in four years, says “I think revenge is a legitimate motive” for the death penalty...
/ March 20, 2015
It’s been a busy week since an Orange County judge found that local law enforcement and prosecutors relied on unconstitutional practices involving jailhouse informants to seek a death sentence in the case of Scott Dekraai and ruled that the Orange County District Attorney was not fit to continue prosecuting the case. Judge Goethals’ ruling last...
/ March 18, 2015
UPDATE: After a quarter-century, Maricopa County’s notorious prosecution of Debra Milke is finally over.  The Arizona Supreme Court has denied review of the Appellate Court decision barring Milke’s retrial for murder on the grounds that it would expose her to double jeopardy.  That decision, discussed at length in our original post below, found the “egregious...
/ March 12, 2015
Adding to the recent flurry of media attention on prosecutorial misconduct in California, The Los Angeles Times ran a story yesterday – and an update today – on a highly anticipated ruling from Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals dealing with the improper use of jailhouse informants in Scott Evans Dekraai’s murder case. The LA Times reports...
/ March 9, 2015
Last year, we wrote about Deputy District Attorney Robert Murray of Kern County, who inserted two very incriminating lines into a defendant’s statement regarding the allegations of child molestation that were pending against him. A subsequent bar complaint against Murray is being held in abeyance according to the California State Bar website, which reports on...