In a recent case out of the United State Court of Appeals for the 9th District, a defendant's conviction for using chemicals to unlawful purposes, essentially to make a weapon, was upheld. While the conviction is not noteworthy, what is noteworthy is that one judge on the Appellate Court voiced his anger at the prosecutorial misconduct.
In this case, the defense alleged that scientific evidence that had been handled by the prosecution had been analyzed by an individual who was under investigation for forensic misconduct and causing multiple wrongful convictions. More importantly, the defense alleged that the prosecutor in the case was aware of the investigation and did not disclose it, thereby taking away a strong defense argument for the defendant to use in his case. If the Appellate Court agreed with this argument, it would have been a violation of a very important Supreme Court decision that requires prosecutors to turn over evidence to the defense that can help exonerate their clients.
However, the Appellate Court did not all agree that such a violation occurred and they determined that even with the evidence, the individual would have still probably been convicted, so they would not overturn the conviction.
What outraged the judge who dissented, and outrages defense attorneys, is that by making this ruling the court is saying it was ok for the prosecutor to hold back evidence, no matter how small they may believe it is. But this takes away opportunity for the truth to come out from defendants and the ability to fight the allegations with every piece of evidence possible, and should not be done, which one can imagine is why the judge spoke out against the ruling.
As we are beginning to see, prejudice and misconduct in the legal system are no longer being tolerated the way they once were. It is up to prosecutors and even the judges, and not just defense attorneys, to fight for this change. We commend the judges and attorneys who are taking such bold stances and are fighting for justice. Defense attorneys have always been on the front line with their clients, but it is a welcome sign of the times to see such strong judges and prosecutors join the cause.