Next Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will reopen the issue of prosecutorial misconduct when it hears oral arguments in
Smith v. Cain
, a Louisiana case where the defendant is seeking a new trial based on evidence withheld from his attorneys at his original trial.
Writing in the Washington Post yesterday, Robert Barnes examined the Smith case and drew parallels to the Prosecutorial Oversight Campaign, which the Innocence Project launched last week with partners at the Veritas Initiative, Innocence Project New Orleans and Voices of Innocence. Above is a video of the
launch last week in Washington, D.C.
The new case, Smith v. Cain , is not about punishing prosecutors. It is about whether withholding evidence should mean a new trial for Juan Smith, who prosecutors said was involved in a gangland-style shooting that left five dead. Prosecutors have an obligation under a nearly 50-year-old Supreme Court precedent in Brady v. Maryland to turn over any evidence material to a defendant’s guilt or punishment.
The case is expected to be determined by its specific facts rather than the potential for a new examination of Brady. It also seems not coincidental that it involves New Orleans prosecutors.