WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 (UPI) — In its upcoming November 2011 term, the U.S. Supreme Court is getting ready to hear argument in Smith v. Cain, 10-8145 on a core issue of the nation’s legal system: under what circumstances do prosecutors have to reveal evidence that might help defendants show innocence?
The Supreme Court’s opinion in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U. S. 83 (1963), has been settled law for nearly five decades. In Brady, a prosecutor had withheld from the defense evidence that might have helped Defendant Brady, avoid conviction (for murder) and the death penalty. The high court ruled 7-2 that suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused who has requested it violates constitutional due process — where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, regardless of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.
The case, Smith v. Cain, 10-8145, Juan Smith was convicted of five counts of murder in the “Morrison Road”(Louisiana) case and sentenced to life in prison without parole. The state trial court, the state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal and the state Supreme Court all denied Smith’s petition for review. Smith contends that the Louisiana courts disregarded established precedents on “Brady material.”
While Smith awaits his day before the Supreme Court, the ABA has singled out the case as the chance to give the Brady precedent a broader, more concrete effect.
For full article see Just how fair does justice have to be? By Michael Kirkland
- Justice and Prosecutorial Misconduct (nytimes.com)
- Supreme Court Overturns Quintuple Murder Conviction For Juan Smith (huffingtonpost.com)
- JURIST – Paper Chase: Supreme Court overturns conviction due to DA withholding evidence (vinhsulaw.wordpress.com)