The Supreme Court has taken the case of a breakthrough case where the Ninth Circuit had held that a wrongly convicted man could sue the prosecutor who was allegedly responsible for injustice. The expectation is that the Court will carve out an exception for prosecutors — further insulating abusive prosecutors from responsibility for their acts.
Thomas Goldstein is an ex-marine who was convicted of murdering his neighbor and served 24 years. He was convicted in a favorite fashion for many prosecutors. With the absence of direct evidence, prosecutors went to their endless supply of jailhouse snitches willing to claim that he confessed in jail.
Jailhouse snitches have become a plague within the legal system but courts are largely unable to block the practice. Now, however, one court held that if a prosecutor engages in abuse, they can be sued for the resulting injustice.
Goldstein used 42 U.S.C. 1983 to sue. This law allows a citizen to sue government official who deprives them of their constitutional rights “under the color of state law.” In the case of Imbler v. Pachtman, the Supreme Court previously created a massive exception for prosecutors — establishing absolute immunity when acting in their official capacity.
The novel approach in the case seeks not to sue the trial prosecutor but his boss, L.A. District Attorney John Van de Kamp for the negligence of his supervision of his office.
I expect the court will deliver Van de Kamp from liability and further insulate this odious practice from liability. For the abuse of the snitch system, click here.
For the full story, click here