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New Orleans DA Back at the Supreme Court


Well, this is certainly surprising:

On Tuesday, the justices will hear the case of Juan Smith, who was convicted of murdering five people here. The court will consider whether he deserves a new trial because prosecutors withheld evidence from his lawyers. Such a concealment can be a violation of Brady v. Maryland, the 1963 Supreme Court decision that required prosecutors to turn over favorable evidence to the defense.

The Orleans Public Defenders office, in a brief supporting Mr. Smith, said that 28 convictions obtained by the district attorney’s office were later ruled to have been tainted by violations of this kind.

As a bare majority of the Supreme Court has reminded us, what’s crucial is to remember that 1)this is all a coincidence and not a systematic failure of the DA’s office, and 2)certainly nobody should ever be held accountable for constitutional violations.

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