Juan Smith was found guilty of five murders in a New Orleans trial court. At his trial, the government presented the testimony of a witness who said Smith was the first gunman to come through the door during a robbery. However, prosecutors held back the fact that that same witness had previously told a detective he could not identify the robbers.
Prosecutors must disclose “material exculpatory evidence” to defense
Smith appealed his guilty verdicts to the United States Supreme Court, which reversed the convictions. Eight of the nine Supreme Court Justices ruled that the government prosecutors should have disclosed this admission by the witness to the defense before trial. This is based on a past U.S. Supreme Court case, Brady v. Maryland, which states that prosecutors must disclose “material exculpatory evidence” to the defense. Material exculpatory evidence is evidence that creates a reasonable probability that a conviction or sentence would be different if the evidence is disclosed. Kudos to the U. S. Supreme Court for reminding the government’s prosecutors that they cannot violate the law.
Criminal defendants accused of any crime should hire an aggressive defense attorney to represent them in all court proceedings. A skilled lawyer will watch out for ethical violations by prosecutors and work hard to protect defendants from such violations.
Contact an attorney immediately to discuss your criminal case. And remember, the right attorney can be critical to the success of a case.