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Posted: 11/4/2009 11:32:05 AM EST
Cop have governmental immunity. However it is limited by clearly established constitutional rights and you can sue the cops for violations in a 1983 action. I don't do this. It's complicated long expensive and worst of all civil. BUT John Monroe does and he lets me help out so I'm learning the ropes.

Today the USSC heard arguments in a case where the prosecutors claim that 1983 does not apply to them. "You have no constitutional right against being framed." They claim that since they cannot be held accountable for what they do in trial they also cannot be held accountable for purposefully framing a man for murder.

Welcome to the police state, check you libery at the door. Oh and All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others...

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120069519&scum

Do prosecutors have total immunity from lawsuits for anything they do, including framing someone for murder? That is the question the justices of the Supreme Court face Wednesday.

On one side of the case being argued are Iowa prosecutors who contend "there is no freestanding right not to be framed." They are backed by the Obama administration, 28 states and every major prosecutors organization in the country.

On the other side are two black men — Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee — men who served 25 years in prison before evidence long hidden in police files resulted in them being freed.

Harrington, McGhee And The Principal Witness

Back in 1977, Harrington, captain of his Omaha high school football team, was applying to college and being recruited for a possible scholarship at Yale.


Then he and McGhee were arrested for the murder of a retired police officer in neighboring Council Bluffs, Iowa, just across the state line.

The principal witness was 16-year-old Kevin Hughes, who had a criminal record, and after being arrested in a stolen car, first fingered two other men, one of whom turned out to have been in jail on the night of the crime.

After his first stories didn't pan out, Hughes implicated Harrington and McGhee, but his eyewitness account was riddled with errors.

He initially got the site of the shooting wrong and the weapon. He said the murder was committed with a handgun, then said a 20-gauge shotgun and finally a 12-gauge shotgun.

He also failed a polygraph test. According to lawyers for Harrington and McGhee, the Council Bluffs police and prosecutors knew all this and more. But they went ahead and indicted the two men, winning convictions before an all-white jury.

'Living A Nightmare'

Former Bush administration Solicitor General Paul Clement will tell the Supreme Court that in 1977, Council Bluffs was an almost all-white community, and that politics and race played a part in the prosecutor's decisions.

The county prosecutor, David Richter, had been appointed to his post and was facing his first election, observes Clement. "He has an unsolved murder, something that is hardly standard fare in Council Bluffs, Iowa," he says. "He had the perfect suspects, if he could tag the murder to a couple of young African-American teenagers from across the state line."

Harrington couldn't believe what was happening to him. He says he was "living a nightmare."

Convicted two days after his 19th birthday, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

"When I walked into that front door and that gate closed behind me," Harrington says of his first day in prison, "it was so humiliating that all I could do was cry. I cried all night."

In prison, Harrington assumed a tough alter ego he called "T.J." and did everything he could to survive.

Harrington struck up a friendship with the prison barber, who petitioned for the police records in his case. According to defense lawyers, those records not only disclosed how police and prosecutors had coached Hughes until his story matched the facts, and how other witnesses were coerced into lying, but that the records also showed that police and prosecutors had withheld evidence that pointed to another suspect.

They had identified a white man named Charles Gates, who had been seen with a shotgun near the scene of the crime. Gates, the brother-in-law of a Council Bluffs Fire Department captain, was interviewed and failed a polygraph. But prosecutors and police abandoned their interest in him in favor of Harrington, who was not even offered a polygraph.

"So the bottom line," says Clement, "is essentially that police and prosecutors together at some point in this case stopped looking for the real killer, the real suspect and decided it would be far easier to get an eyewitness account that said to a moral certainty that the two African-American youths from across the state line have committed this crime. "

Total Immunity?

But even after 25 years in prison, Harrington never gave up. In 2003, armed with the newly disclosed police records, he petitioned the Iowa Supreme Court, which overturned his conviction as well as McGhee's, and concluded that the star witness was a "liar and perjurer." Since then, all the witnesses have recanted.

McGhee, Harrington's co-defendant, agreed to a plea deal in exchange for time served. Harrington refused any deal, and prosecutors dropped all charges against him. Under Iowa law, for all practical purposes, there is no way for the men to recover compensation for their 25 years of hard time. So they sued the prosecutors and the police under a federal civil rights law for violation of their constitutional rights.

The Council Bluffs prosecution team, while still maintaining that Harrington and McGhee are guilty, contends that even if the men were in fact framed, prosecutors, under established Supreme Court precedent, have total immunity from being sued.

The Supreme Court has indeed said that prosecutors are immune from suit for anything they do at trial. But in this case, Harrington and McGhee maintain that before anyone being charged, prosecutors gathered evidence alongside police, interviewed witnesses and knew the testimony they were assembling was false.

The prosecutors counter that there is "no freestanding constitutional right not to be framed." Stephen Sanders, the lawyer for the prosecutors, will tell the Supreme Court on Wednesday that there is no way to separate evidence gathered before trial from the trial itself. Even if a prosecutor files charges against a person knowing that there is no evidence of his guilt, says Sanders, "that's an absolutely immunized activity."

Whatever constitutional wrongs were suffered by Harrington and McGhee, he says, they were the result of their conviction at trial, not the investigation that preceded the trial. Without the trial, he contends, Harrington and McGhee "are simply unable to point to any deprivation of liberty that they suffered from the fabrication itself."

Uphill Climb

Not so, says Clement, the lawyer for Harrington and McGhee. The prosecutorial immunity at trial doesn't wash back and launder a frame at the investigative stage, he says.

Clement notes that the Supreme Court has given immunity to prosecutors only after an indictment takes place. Before that, Clement contends, prosecutors have the same limited immunity that police have — namely, they can be sued if they violate clearly established constitutional rights. And in this case, he says, by the time the indictment took place, "the prosecutors were already up to their necks in this conspiracy ... to frame someone for the crime they didn't commit. That violates the Constitution any way you look at it."

While the justice of this argument may be easy to grasp, Clement has an uphill climb before the Supreme Court. There are good reasons for prosecutorial immunity. Prosecutors at every level of government worry that allowing any lawsuit, ever, would provoke a flood of lawsuits, and that prosecutorial independence would be compromised, with district attorneys shading their decisions for fear of being sued.

Now, the Supreme Court will decide.



http://www.supremecourtus.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/08-1065.pdf

that transcript is a FASCINATING read...
Link Posted: 11/4/2009 11:51:40 AM EST
Prosecutors SHOULD fear getting sued for knowingly indicting an innocent man.
Link Posted: 11/4/2009 11:56:38 AM EST

Originally Posted By footrat:
Prosecutors SHOULD fear getting sued for knowingly indicting an innocent man.

Excuse me, but FUCK indicting, how about trying, convicting and having them rot in prison for 25 years!
Link Posted: 11/4/2009 12:22:13 PM EST
Originally Posted By DKing:

Originally Posted By footrat:
Prosecutors SHOULD fear getting sued for knowingly indicting an innocent man.

Excuse me, but FUCK indicting, how about trying, convicting and having them rot in prison for 25 years!


This. Agree 100%
Link Posted: 11/4/2009 12:23:28 PM EST
Though I sometimes disagree with DKing, I fully believe everyone should be subject to the same rules. If I violate someone's civil rights, I get sued or worse. Prosecutors and judges can ante up, too.
Link Posted: 11/4/2009 12:26:21 PM EST

Originally Posted By Peengwin:
Though I sometimes disagree with DKing,

Say it ain't so!
Link Posted: 11/4/2009 12:53:16 PM EST
That's a damn shame. But I have seen several cases where a prosecutor pushed a case that I didn't think had any merit just boost his/her conviction stats. I have also seen stuff that was in the aggravated felony range plead to BS misdemeanors without consulting with the vitim or officer in order to keep from going to trial, and the attorney still got a conviction. ADA's and DA's have performance expectations, just like cops.

Link Posted: 11/4/2009 1:16:26 PM EST
Originally Posted By fcs2178:
That's a damn shame. But I have seen several cases where a prosecutor pushed a case that I didn't think had any merit just boost his/her conviction stats. I have also seen stuff that was in the aggravated felony range plead to BS misdemeanors without consulting with the vitim or officer in order to keep from going to trial, and the attorney still got a conviction. ADA's and DA's have performance expectations, just like cops.



avoided the common "quota" theory by 98% of civilians, nice job
Link Posted: 11/4/2009 1:20:19 PM EST

Originally Posted By s30series:
Originally Posted By fcs2178:
That's a damn shame. But I have seen several cases where a prosecutor pushed a case that I didn't think had any merit just boost his/her conviction stats. I have also seen stuff that was in the aggravated felony range plead to BS misdemeanors without consulting with the vitim or officer in order to keep from going to trial, and the attorney still got a conviction. ADA's and DA's have performance expectations, just like cops.



avoided the common "quota" theory by 98% of civilians, nice job

civilian - a nonmilitary citizen. (pet peeve)
Link Posted: 11/4/2009 1:28:22 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/4/2009 1:29:35 PM EST by s30series]
Originally Posted By DKing:

Originally Posted By s30series:
Originally Posted By fcs2178:
That's a damn shame. But I have seen several cases where a prosecutor pushed a case that I didn't think had any merit just boost his/her conviction stats. I have also seen stuff that was in the aggravated felony range plead to BS misdemeanors without consulting with the vitim or officer in order to keep from going to trial, and the attorney still got a conviction. ADA's and DA's have performance expectations, just like cops.



avoided the common "quota" theory by 98% of civilians, nice job

civilian - a nonmilitary citizen. (pet peeve)


yeah, but from what ive heard/seen, cops don't consider themselves civilians

*EDIT* websters: a person who is not on active duty with a military, naval, police, or fire fighting organization

BAM BITCH!
Link Posted: 11/4/2009 1:37:14 PM EST
Originally Posted By s30series:
Originally Posted By fcs2178:
That's a damn shame. But I have seen several cases where a prosecutor pushed a case that I didn't think had any merit just boost his/her conviction stats. I have also seen stuff that was in the aggravated felony range plead to BS misdemeanors without consulting with the vitim or officer in order to keep from going to trial, and the attorney still got a conviction. ADA's and DA's have performance expectations, just like cops.



avoided the common "quota" theory by 98% of civilians, nice job


Ive never been told I had to arrest more people or write more tickets. But if you come to work and dont do crap it will reflect in your year end eval. So it makes strong since for you to be proactive...



Link Posted: 11/4/2009 1:43:07 PM EST
Originally Posted By fcs2178:
Originally Posted By s30series:
Originally Posted By fcs2178:
That's a damn shame. But I have seen several cases where a prosecutor pushed a case that I didn't think had any merit just boost his/her conviction stats. I have also seen stuff that was in the aggravated felony range plead to BS misdemeanors without consulting with the vitim or officer in order to keep from going to trial, and the attorney still got a conviction. ADA's and DA's have performance expectations, just like cops.



avoided the common "quota" theory by 98% of civilians, nice job


Ive never been told I had to arrest more people or write more tickets. But if you come to work and dont do crap it will reflect in your year end eval. So it makes strong since for you to be proactive...

oh i understand that, thats what i said "quota theory" that lots of people think officers have...its more of a "performance expectation" that is exactly what you said, and thus why i was saying nice job !




Link Posted: 11/4/2009 1:44:46 PM EST
Originally Posted By Peengwin:
Though I sometimes disagree with DKing, I fully believe everyone should be subject to the same rules. If I violate someone's civil rights, I get sued or worse. Prosecutors and judges can ante up, too.


Just because I sit on the other side of the courtroom doesn't mean I can't play like a grown up.
Link Posted: 11/4/2009 2:10:41 PM EST

Originally Posted By DKing:

Originally Posted By footrat:
Prosecutors SHOULD fear getting sued for knowingly indicting an innocent man.

Excuse me, but FUCK indicting, how about trying, convicting and having them rot in prison for 25 years!

If it was me, Id send'em to hell if they did it knowingly and seeing how I'd just spent 25 years there. Tango Uniform all the way.
Link Posted: 11/4/2009 3:12:11 PM EST
Originally Posted By s30series:
Originally Posted By DKing:

Originally Posted By s30series:
Originally Posted By fcs2178:
That's a damn shame. But I have seen several cases where a prosecutor pushed a case that I didn't think had any merit just boost his/her conviction stats. I have also seen stuff that was in the aggravated felony range plead to BS misdemeanors without consulting with the vitim or officer in order to keep from going to trial, and the attorney still got a conviction. ADA's and DA's have performance expectations, just like cops.



avoided the common "quota" theory by 98% of civilians, nice job

civilian - a nonmilitary citizen. (pet peeve)


yeah, but from what ive heard/seen, cops don't consider themselves civilians

*EDIT* websters: a person who is not on active duty with a military, naval, police, or fire fighting organization

BAM BITCH!


To hell with Websters.

When you can quit your job at will without going to jail, cuss your boss out without (literally) being limited to bread and water rations, or not be subject to imprisonment or the death penalty for cowardice, you are a civilian.
Link Posted: 11/4/2009 3:17:02 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/4/2009 3:19:20 PM EST by DaveyJonesLockerUSN]
Doug, I wonder how many people agreeing with you on this thread have a low opinion of the Innocence Project.

ETA: And cops are SO civilians

ETA2: At least Mike Nifong (Duke LAX) was disbarred. P.O.S.
Link Posted: 11/4/2009 4:48:11 PM EST

Originally Posted By DaveyJonesLockerUSN:
Doug, I wonder how many people agreeing with you on this thread have a low opinion of the Innocence Project.

ETA: And cops are SO civilians

ETA2: At least Mike Nifong (Duke LAX) was disbarred. P.O.S.
One opinion at a time...

Link Posted: 11/4/2009 5:03:41 PM EST
BTW, the good ol Bramlett came and talked to my legal studies class.... very humble but highly accomplished dude.
Link Posted: 11/5/2009 2:49:04 AM EST
The prosecutors should suffer the same fate as those two guys................they need to forfeit 25 years in payment for wronging them

Originally Posted By DKing:

Originally Posted By footrat:
Prosecutors SHOULD fear getting sued for knowingly indicting an innocent man.

Excuse me, but FUCK indicting, how about trying, convicting and having them rot in prison for 25 years!


Link Posted: 11/5/2009 4:13:30 AM EST
Frankly, I would have no problem with the death penalty for cases such as this. If you are so morally reprobate that you don't have a problem suppressing evidence that might get in the way of an otherwise good case, so you can get a conviction, then there is no room for you in society. I also believe that if there were some accountability then this would/could be avoided in the future.
Link Posted: 11/5/2009 4:25:04 AM EST

Originally Posted By rangeroastbeef:
Frankly, I would have no problem with the death penalty for cases such as this. If you are so morally reprobate that you don't have a problem suppressing evidence that might get in the way of an otherwise good case, so you can get a conviction, then there is no room for you in society. I also believe that if there were some accountability then this would/could be avoided in the future.

Prosecutors choose whether to pursue the death penalty or not. Good luck with that!

But in all honesty, there no punishment or restitution that could possibly make up for the wrong. I personally don't believe in punishment for punishments sake or that we should give an eye for an eye. The greatest victory for the two who were wronged will be insuring it can never happen again. It is far far better that ten guilty men go free then one innocent man endures a unjust punishment. I can defend myself against a guilty man free, I can't defend myself against innocent suffering.
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