News 07.18.12

Louisiana Exonerees File Civil Suit in Prosecutorial Misconduct Case

Two former Louisiana inmates who served 27 years for a 1975 murder before their convictions were overturned have filed a civil rights lawsuit seeking $1 million for each year spent behind bars. Gregory Bright and Earl Truvia, who also want punitive damages, accuse prosecutors under former Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick of withholding key evidence from the defense.

 

Among the missing evidence was a report showing that police questioned two suspects before Bright and Truvia and that the only witness was a paranoid schizophrenic who testified under a false name to hide her background, reported The Times-Picayune.

 

Attorneys for the city and the District Attorney’s office asked the judge to dismiss the suit saying that they were not required to turn over the evidence.

 

Last year, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in

Connick v. Thompson

finding that the prosecutor’s office could not be held liable for failing to train prosecutors to turn over evidence based on the evidence presented in that case. John Thompson was exonerated after serving 18 years—14 in isolation on death row—for a murder he did not commit. He sued the District Attorney’s Office but the state appealed to the high court.


“Wrongful convictions are caused by lawyers and we simply don’t hold them to account,” said Emily Maw, director of Innocence Project New Orleans. “It’s absolutely both sides. Crappy defense lawyers are just as responsible.”

After a four-year fight for compensation, Bright, 56, and Truvia, 53, were recently awarded $190,000 each by the state under a Louisiana law that grants compensation to those wrongfully convicted.

 

The judge has declined to rule immediately on the motion to dismiss the case.

 

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