Should prosecutors be liable for prosecutorial misconduct?

That is the gist of a case the Supreme Court decided to hear today. I think the answer is, it depends. If it is egregious misconduct, like using jailhouse snitches and not disclosing any rewards given, then I think the answer is yes. Same with withholding Brady evidence that is material to the case (think, smoking gun).

Court will hear wrongful conviction case – Yahoo! News
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether a man who served 24 years in prison before his murder conviction was overturned can sue two former prosecutors for allegedly violating his civil rights.

Thomas Goldstein, now 59, was convicted of a 1979 murder on the strength of a jailhouse informant’s testimony that Goldstein had confessed to the crime. The informant testified he received no benefit in return, but evidence that came to light later suggested he had struck a deal to get a lighter sentence.

Two federal judges and a federal appeals panel eventually ruled that Goldstein was wrongly convicted, and he was freed in 2004.

Individual prosecutors typically may not be sued for their decisions, but Goldstein sued former District Attorney John K. Van de Kamp and his former chief deputy, Curt Livesay, claiming that as managers they had a policy of relying on jailhouse informants even though it sometimes led to false evidence.

If Goldstein ultimately is successfully in suing, the case could lead to higher-ups in other prosecutors’ offices being held liable for the conduct of their prosecutors in the courtroom, Van de Kamp said.

That isn’t such a bad thing if it helps clean up prosecutorial misconduct that happens today but has no real outlet for accountability.

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