Thursday, November 05, 2009

Prosecutors: We Can Frame You With Impunity

Michael Hampton writes on Homeland Stupidity:

Prosecutors trying to put you in prison for a crime you didn’t commit can fabricate evidence, coerce witnesses into lying on the stand, and enjoy absolute immunity. They cannot go to prison. They cannot even be sued. They aren’t even likely to get so much as a reprimand from the bar association or from their bosses, even after publicly admitting to framing you.

So argued an attorney for Joseph Hrvol and David Richter, prosecutors in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, who argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday in their case, Pottawattamie County v. McGhee, that they were entitled to absolute immunity for their roles in knowingly putting two teenagers in prison for murder.

In 1977, the two prosecutors coerced Kevin Hughes into lying on the stand, telling him what to say, in order to obtain convictions against Curtis W. McGhee Jr. and Terry J. Harrington, both 16 at the time. The two would spend 25 years in prison for the murder of a retired police officer who was working as a security guard in Council Bluffs, despite the facts that Hughes changed his story several times before trial and that prosecutors also let a more likely suspect in the case get away and covered it up. Their convictions were finally overturned in 2003 by the Iowa Supreme Court, which found that Hughes had committed perjury.

The courts have held that prosecutors enjoy absolute immunity under the common law for any actions they take at trial, though only qualified immunity when they perform police functions such as investigating crimes and gathering evidence. Stephen S. Sanders, the attorney for the prosecutors, argued that since they used the fabricated evidence at trial, they should be covered by absolute immunity.

More here.


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