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Prosecutor misconduct alleged in 1980s Louisiana drug case

Many of our recent posts have discussed wrongful conviction based on law enforcement misconduct. The news lately has been full of stories involving Louisiana defendants who were exonerated after spending decades in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. In many cases, defendants were convicted based on “confessions” they gave because interrogators coerced them, assaulted them or lied to them.

Another common problem in Louisiana appears to be prosecutorial misconduct. Even in cases where defendants are not completely innocent, prosecutorial misconduct can result in a conviction that might not have been possible otherwise. It can also mean that defendants face longer prison sentences and other disproportionately harsh penalties.

In 1986, a Louisiana man was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for possession of 21 packets of heroin with intent to distribute. Key to his conviction were a former friend and girlfriend, both of whom testified for the prosecution.

In recent years, both of those witnesses have come forward to say that they lied because they had been threatened by the prosecutor in the case. Attorneys representing the defendant are now arguing that his conviction should be overturned due to prosecutorial misconduct.

Based on the other evidence in the case, there is debate about whether the verdict would have been much different without the testimony. But prosecutorial misconduct should not be tolerated for any reason, regardless of its effect on the outcome of a trial.

Securing a conviction is not always the same thing as ensuring that justice is served. Even more important than convicting the allegedly guilty is ensuring that each defendant’s rights are honored and respected.

Source: SF Gate, "Federal court hearing in Connick-era drug case," Janet McConnaughey, July 10, 2014

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Meet Attorney Guillory

Attorney Joshua S. Guillory was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Upon graduating high school from Alexandria Senior High, he enrolled in classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Josh was a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national honor society for marketing majors, while attending... Read More

Joshua S. Guillory

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