Not My Blood
Q: I was charged with attempted armed robbery. A crime laboratory report, based upon a swatch of fabric stained with the robber’s blood, stated that the perpetrator had blood type B. The report was never disclosed to my attorneys. I have blood type O.
Fourteen years later, some one discovered the crime lab report. Eventually, my conviction was vacated, and I finally left jail. Can I now recover deep-pocket damages under 42 USC §1983 by suing the city for failing to train its prosecutors?
A: Unfortunately, you would bear the heavy burden of proving both (1) that the DA was ‘deliberately indifferent’ to the need to train the prosecutors about their disclosure obligation and (2) that the lack of training actually caused your conviction. Even harder, a pattern of similar violations generally is held necessary to establish deliberate indifference. The courts say that a city is entitled to rely on its prosecutors’ professional training in the absence of a pattern.
In New York, a better theory of suit would seem to be under the Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act. With this statute, the State has assumed a moral obligation to compensate innocent persons who have been unjustly convicted and imprisoned, but who are thwarted by the onerous requirements of other causes of action. Thereby, you may file a claim against the State, merely upon a showing that you were innocent and that you were not (through some other misconduct) responsible for your own prosecution.
By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial
The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.
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