In a case that could clarfiy a standard for appeals in cases where defendants were prevented from offering key evidence, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today in the case of Fry v. Pliler. John Fry was convicted of first-degree murder in California and sentenced to life in prison. At his trial, the judge prevented testimony of a witness who would have stated that she heard another man admitting guilt in a crime matching the one for which Fry was convicted. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that although the witness’s testimony “would have substantially bolstered” Fry’s defense, it still constituted “harmless error.”
The Supreme Court today reviews the Ninth Circuit’s denial of Fry’s petition.
The Innocence Network filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that the error in this case “can not be said to be harmless.”
Read the amicus brief here