The Open File Blog
/ July 1, 2015
In its new issue next week, The New Yorker will publish an important story about Caddo Parish interim District Attorney Dale Cox and the extreme racial bias of the context in which his office hands down death sentences – lots of them. It’s online now and is well worth a read. Caddo parish and DA...
/ June 14, 2015
In a rare but highly commendable action by the Texas State Bar, the prosecutor in the Anthony Graves case, who knowingly presented false testimony from two key witnesses in Graves’ 1994 capital murder case has been disbarred.  You can read the full judgment of disbarment here.  It is a remarkable, and in the annals of prosecutorial...
/ June 11, 2015
The District Attorney of Harris County announced this week that a man whose death sentence was vacated last year for the prosecution’s failure to disclose alibi evidence will not be retried.  DA Devon Anderson dismissed the 2005 capital murder charge against Alfred Dewayne Brown, who has spent more than a dozen years on death row,...
/ May 31, 2015
The former Prosecuting Attorney of Yakima County has been formally admonished by the Washington State Bar Association’s Disciplinary Board for his attempt to have a judge he personally objected to removed from a case outside the standard motion practice for recusals. As reported by the Yakima Herald, the action by the disciplinary board is based...
/ May 27, 2015
As you know, we have been closely following the emerging crisis in Orange County involving informants. In March Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals removed the OC DA’s office from a case because of its failure to comply with discovery and basic due process rights related to the informant scandal. On May 27, Al Jazeera’s show...
/ 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...