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Connick v. Thompson

Location: Louisiana
Court Type: U.S. Supreme Court
Status: Closed (Judgment)
Last Update: August 16, 2010

What's at Stake

Whether someone who spent 14 years on death row before his murder conviction was overturned because the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence can recover damages from the prosecutor’s office on a theory that it failed to train its staff regarding their constitutional obligations.

Summary

Prosecutors are constitutionally required to disclose any exculpatory evidence to the defense prior to trial. In this case, Thompson’s conviction was overturned after he had spent 14 years on death row when it came to light that the prosecution had improperly withheld exculpatory evidence. Thompson sued, and a jury ordered the prosecutor’s office to pay $14 million for its failure to adequately train its staff. In an amicus brief supporting the verdict, the ACLU argues that the need to train in this instance was obvious, the results of inadequate training were predictable, and the fact that prosecutors are lawyers is not an excuse for failure to train.

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