Will U.S. Supreme Court Hold Prosecutors Accountable?

Earl Truvia and Greg Bright each served 27 years in Angola State Prison in Louisiana for a 1975 New Orleans murder they did not commit. The state’s only evidence against them was the story of a single eyewitness who—unbeknownst to Truvia and Bright or their lawyers—was a schizophrenic drug addict who had testified under a false name. In what has become an all too common occurrence, the prosecution violated Truvia’s and Bright’s Constitutional rights, as set forth in Brady v. Maryland, when they withheld this and other material exculpatory and impeachment evidence. Innocence Project New Orleans successfully overturned the murder convictions.

Cruser & Mitchell’s Bill Mitchell and Michael Hoffer represent Earl Truvia and Greg Bright in their lawsuit against New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick to hold his office accountable for violations of Truvia’s and Bright’s Brady rights. To show that the District Attorney’s Office had a policy, practice and custom of depriving defendants of Brady information, Cruser & Mitchell unearthed more than 90 instances where 44 different prosecutors in Harry Connick’s office told criminal defendants in the time frame around their prosecution that they were “not entitled” to materials covered by Brady.

The case currently is before the United States Supreme Court on the issue of when a district attorney’s office can be held liable when they withhold Brady materials from criminal defendants. The New York Times recently has urged the Supreme Court to take this case and allow people like Truvia and Bright to hold district attorneys accountable when they have a policy, practice and custom of depriving defendants of Brady materials.

Read The New York Times editorial here.