The Open File Blog
/ October 23, 2014 1 COMMENTS
In a strongly worded opinion, the 3rd Circuit has vacated a conspiracy charge in a drug case, owing to the prosecutor’s cross-examination of the defendant about his silence following his arrest. The accused, a truck driver named Gathon Shannon, had invoked his 5th Amendment rights at the time of his arrest at a truck stop...
/ October 21, 2014 0 COMMENTS
We learned yesterday that Nueces County District Attorney Mark Skurka has decided to retry Hannah Overton for capital murder in the death of her four year-old foster son, despite the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals’ reversal of her conviction, and substantial evidence in the court’s concurring opinion of ethical violations and misconduct by the original...
/ October 17, 2014 0 COMMENTS
A man convicted of felony murder for apparently cowering in a motel bathroom while one of his drug dealer’s associates was shot in a parking lot in Volusia County, has had his conviction reversed by a Florida appeals court on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.  You can read a useful summary of the case here....
/ October 14, 2014 0 COMMENTS
Following the quashing of a robbery indictment earlier this year by a district court in Taos, the Disciplinary Board of the New Mexico Supreme Court has filed formal charges of professional misconduct against the prosecutor in the case, Assistant DA Emilio Chavez, as well as his boss, Taos District Attorney Donald Gallegos. At issue is...
/ October 13, 2014 0 COMMENTS
Allegations of prosecutorial misconduct and an admission by prosecutors of “deficiencies” in the indictment led the state of Hawaii to drop over 400 counts of illegal gambling against nine men last week. According to khon2.com, an attorney for one of the defendants said of the state, “They acknowledge that they presented false information to the...
/ October 10, 2014 0 COMMENTS
In a “stunning legal victory” reported yesterday by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner ruled that the state is barred from retrying three men whose 2006 murder convictions were vacated due to prosecutorial misconduct.  Citing a rarely invoked Pennsylvania Supreme Court precedent, which holds that double jeopardy applies “when the conduct of...
/ October 8, 2014 0 COMMENTS
To the extent that prosecutorial misconduct has begun to reach into public consciousness, its been through stories about the most egregious behavior of the state, the kind that leads to innocent defendants spending decades in prison, being sentenced to death, and even dying. These are cases we have certainly highlighted here at the Open File. ...
/ October 3, 2014 0 COMMENTS
For the second time in the same case, the Troy Messenger reports, the Alabama Supreme Court has denied the petition of Pike County District Attorney Tom Anderson asking it to order a lower court to reverse its grant of a new trial for Andre Ellis, a man accused of two rapes and a burglary in...
/ October 2, 2014 0 COMMENTS
As predicted, the use of an informant network by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ office in Orange County, California, is continuing to cause upset following revelations that prosecutors have been withholding Brady material related to the informants in numerous high-profile murder cases. Law enforcement and prosecutors in Orange County have been planting informants in jail cells with...
/ September 30, 2014 0 COMMENTS
It wouldn’t have been hard.  He’s up by more than twenty points in the polls.  He’s about to enter what will be his forth and presumably last term as Governor.  The Assembly had passed the bill by nineteen votes, the Senate by seven.  And yet still, Jerry Brown failed yesterday to take what even a...
/ September 29, 2014 1 COMMENTS
As the issue of prosecutorial misconduct has begun to rise into public consciousness, and demands for accountability have grown louder, The Open File has been tracking a few states (see, Pending Legislation) where legislatures have begun to address the lack of consequences for prosecutors who violate defendants’ constitutional rights.  One of them is California, where...
/ September 25, 2014 0 COMMENTS
To the burgeoning annals of discredited prosecutions conducted by former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ office, which we’ve been chronicling here at The Open File for some time, we must now add the 1993 kidnapping convictions of Everton Wagstaffe and Reginald Connor. Last week a New York State Appellate Division panel, citing the prosecution’s last...
/ September 23, 2014 0 COMMENTS
We have written previously on the tension for prosecutors in disclosing Brady material about police witnesses, noting that “there is a whole series of steps that can impede the disclosure of impeachment evidence about police officers.” A new law review article examines this tension in greater detail using original research to provide “the first account of...
/ September 21, 2014 0 COMMENTS
Recently at The Open File we’ve been following developments at the Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office in Louisville.  Notably, the alleged misdeeds of prosecutor Tom Van De Rostyne.  In April, a judge declared a mistrial in the murder case against Dejuan Hammond when it was discovered Van De Rostyne had failed to turn over a...
/ September 16, 2014 0 COMMENTS
Grits for Breakfast recently posted on a Dallas murder case with a strong prosecutorial misconduct claim that prosecutors knowingly presented false evidence. State informants testified at trial that they received nothing in exchange for their testimony that they heard the defendants in the case confess to the crime. But letters they wrote suggested otherwise: that...