Wednesday, April 6, 2011
The Supreme Court recently issued its opinion in CONNICK v. THOMPSON. It was a case that involved an unjust conviction based on prosecutorial misconduct. Harry Connick, Sr. prosecuted John Thompson for some heinous crimes. While taking Mr. Thompson through trial, however, Mr. Connick withheld evidence that may have exonorated the defendant. Without access to the exculpatory evidence, a jury convicted Mr. Thompson.
While Mr. Thompson lingered in prison for 18 years, many of which were spent on death row, he maintained his innocence. Thanks to his excellent legal representation that persuaded Mr. Connick to admit to violating the defendant’s rights to a fair trial, an appeals court freed Mr. Thompson.
Following that decision, Mr. Thompson sued the prosecutor. The prosecutor’s willful violation of the defendant’s rights led to an unjust prison term of 18 years. After a trial, a jury awarded Mr. Thompson $14 million in damages for his loss of 18 years. The recent Supreme Court decision, however, reversed that award of damages. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that prosecutors couldn’t be held liable for wrongdoing.
It’s an interesting case that all criminal defendants should make themselves aware. Although the government and those who represent it may make a thousand indiscretions, when a defendant does he should expect severe punishment. Mr. Thompson languished in prison for 18 years before he was able to demonstrate in a meaningful way that he never should have faced prison. Then, when a jury of his peers awarded damages, Big Brother snatched them away. While reading this ruling only one thought cut through my mind: we live in a wicked world.
Knowing how the wheels of justice turn should help an individual who faces troubles with the criminal justice system. I’ve written extensively about my own struggles in my books Lessons From Prison and Ethics in Motion. Unlike Mr. Thompson, I stood guilty of the crimes with which prosecutors charged me. In time I came to the conclusion that the best course of action for me was to accept responsibility and move forward with my life in a more honorable way.
That decision helped me through the one year of confinement I served inside the Taft Federal Prison Camp. Since leaving I’ve been working to make a more positive contribution to society. Part of my responsibilities include helping others who face struggles with the criminal justice system.
An individual should consult with competent legal counsel before choosing to plead guilty or contest the charges through a criminal trial. At the same time, defendants might be wise to learn as much about the criminal justice system as possible. I’ve learned a great deal from both personal experience and study. If I may be of assistance in helping you, please contact me. I’m JP and I can help.