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Supreme Court Backs Lying Prosecutors – More Cruel and Unususal Treatment for Bradley Manning

April 13, 2011

Supreme Court rules prosecutors can lie and fabricate evidence

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 COMMENT: The Supreme Court’s decision in Connick v. Thompson virtually gives license to prosecutors to lie, fabricate or withhold evidence, since they apparently can’t be held accountable for knowingly or intentionally sending an innocent man to prison and even death row.

Washington Post
Posted April 10, 2011

WASHINGTON – An ideologically divided Supreme Court on Tuesday stripped a $14 million award from a wrongfully convicted man who had spent 14 years on death row and successfully sued New Orleans prosecutors for misconduct.


[A dissenting Ginsburg] said the actions of prosecutors under the control of Connick, who left office in 2003 and is the father of the famous singer of the same name, “dishonored” the obligation to turn over evidence favorable to the accused established in Brady v. Maryland, nearly 50 years ago.


There is no dispute that one of Connick’s prosecutors did not turn over a blood test that would have shown Thompson innocent of one of the charges against him. But Thomas said that a single incident is not enough to prove liability for the district attorney’s office and that Thompson did not show a pattern of similar violations.


Thompson was convicted of armed robbery in 1985, before he stood trial for the murder of Raymond Liuzza, the son of a prominent New Orleans hotel owner. Prosecutors used the armed robbery conviction as a way to coerce Thompson not to take the stand in his own defense, and, after conviction, to secure the death penalty. A pair of lawyers at a large Philadelphia law firm took up his case to spare him death; at one point, Thompson came within weeks of execution.

But in 1999, an investigator discovered that a blood test conducted in the armed robbery case showed that Thompson was not the perpetrator. Prosecutors acknowledged that it was withheld from Thompson’s attorneys.

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High court says exonerated inmate cannot sue prosecutors


Bill Mears
April 10, 2011

Washington (CNN) — A sharply divided Supreme Court ruled against a former death row inmate who sought damages from the state after prosecutors hid crucial blood tests that would have earlier proven his innocence. The 5-4 decision Tuesday involved John Thompson, who came within weeks of execution and had spent 18 years behind bars before being set free after the new forensic evidence came to light.

At issue was whether a district attorney’s office should be held liable, under a “failure to train” standard, when one of its prosecutors unconstitutionally withholds exculpatory evidence from a criminal defendant.

Then-New Orleans area District Attorney Harry Connick Sr. claimed his office should not be held fully responsible after one of his staff attorneys violated long-standing, accepted procedures on handling evidence in criminal trials.

Thompson’s lawyers said the DA’s office as a whole should be held liable for the poor training of prosecutors working under Connick.

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Pelosi: To my Republican friends; take back your party.


Bradley Manning’s Treatment Worsens as Constitutional Scholars Condemn FedGov

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Written by Thomas R. Eddlem   
Wednesday, 13 April 2011 09:50

One of President Barack Obama’s Harvard professors has condemned the Defense Department’s treatment of suspected WikiLeaks source Pfc. Bradley Manning, as the Obama administration has denied access to Manning by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez.

Among the nearly 300 constitutional scholar signatories condemning the federal government holding Manning in isolation since July is Lawrence Tribe, one of Obama’s Harvard Law School professors.

The constitutional scholars argued that Manning’s treatment “violates his person and his liberty without due process of law and in the way it administers cruel and unusual punishment of a sort that cannot be constitutionally inflicted even upon someone convicted of terrible offenses, not to mention someone merely accused of such offenses.” The group complained that Manning is kept in solitary confinement under a “Prevention of Injury” regulation that has required forced nudity before male and female guards, procedures that the Obama administration has refused to explain publicly. The constitutional scholars concluded: “In an Orwellian twist, the spokesman for the brig commander refused to explain the forced nudity ‘because to discuss the details would be a violation of Manning’s privacy.'”

UN Special Rapporteur Mendez claimed to be “deeply disappointed and frustrated by the prevarication of the US government with regard to my attempts to visit Mr. Manning.” The UN Rapporteur was given the option to visit as a “private” visitor, rather than as an “official” visitor, meaning that a guard would have to be present during their questioning. While the U.S. government should not answer the beck and call of the United Nations, Manning’s supporters at the liberal FireDogLake website noted:

President Obama said the Pentagon had reassured [Mendez] that Manning’s confinement met “basic standards.” If Manning’s conditions meets our “basic standards,” then why is the government going to such great lengths to keep him from meeting with official visitors? Marine rules clearly state that people “conducting official government business, either on behalf of the prisoner or in the interest of justice,” can be allowed “official visits” not subject to monitoring by the brig. That explicitly includes Members of Congress like Rep. Kucinich … [who] has been trying to visit Manning in prison for more than two months.

The fact that Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a U.S. Congressman, was also denied access to Manning is revealing and indicative of the Obama administration’s long retreat from its promise of transparency. The Obama administration capped off its increasing resistance to transparency by receiving an open government award from — in secret. “It didn’t appear on his publicly-released daily schedule, there’s been no official White House readout of the meeting, no photos released and no transcript of the exchange,” the March 31 Washington Post reported.

Lawrence Tribe and the rest of the constitutional scholars accurately noted that the American legal system is designed to have a trial before punishment. Few Americans familiar with the U.S. Constitution would disagree with the conclusion of their letter: “If Manning is guilty of a crime, let him be tried, convicted, and punished according to law,” the open letter continues. “But his treatment must be consistent with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. There is no excuse for his degrading and inhumane pretrial punishment.”
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