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Top Court: Wrongfully-Convicted Man Cannot Sue Prosecutor

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By Admin on January 26, 2009 9:16 AM

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a California man who was wrongfully convicted of murder may not pursue civil rights claims against the district attorney's office responsible for his prosecution, even if the DA's office failed to disclose key evidence related to the potentially false testimony of a jailhouse informant at trial.

In turning away former prisoner Thomas Goldstein's civil rights claims against members of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, the nation's top court on Monday unanimously held that a prosecutor's "absolute immunity" extends to claims that the office failed to properly train or supervise prosecutors, and failed to establish an information system containing potential impeachment material about informants. Goldstein had claimed that members of the district attorney's office failed to disclose evidence that might have been used to descredit the testimony of a jailhouse informant during Goldstein's 1980 murder trial in Los Angeles County. Goldstein spent 24 years in prison before his murder conviction was overturned. Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision overruled a California federal appeals court holding that had allowed the case to proceed.