After the Supreme Court granted review in Connick v Thompson just after it was prevented from deciding Pottawattamie County, Iowa v. Harrington because it settled, I speculated that the Court was looking for a case to criticize what seemed to be widespread prosecutorial misconduct. Once it decided Connick by essentially avoiding commenting on the notion of prosecutorial misconduct directly, however, I was forced to admit I had been wrong.
This is why I am now dazed and confused by the news that the Court has decided to grant review to a new case of prosecutorial misconduct out of New Orleans.
Reporting for the SCotUS blog, Lyle Denniston writes that "[j]ust weeks after the Supreme Court divided deeply over the tactics of prosecutors in New Orleans, the Justices on Monday decided to take another look, adding a new case claiming repeated violations of those prosecutors’ duty to share information that would help defense lawyers. Public defender lawyers, in the new case, aimed strong complaints at the District Attorney’s office in Orleans Parish, contending that it has “a well-documented history of hiding…from defense counsel” evidence of potential aid to the defense." Go here to read the full report. The case will be decided next term.
In Connick, the Court held that a local government decision not to train employees about their duties under Brady v. Maryland may rise to an actionable policy, but the failure to train must reflect a deliberate indifference to the rights of persons. So, the question now is whether this new case presents enough evidence to support a "deliberate indifference"? Have the justices now seen the light and are ready to reverse their view of the conduct of the DA's office?
I am not going to speculate this time...
For lots of information and links to comments on Connick, go to my sections on Supreme Court or Prosecutors and scroll down.