Government Settles Prosecutorial Misconduct Civil CaseWhich Was Pending in U.S. Supreme Court – Pottwattamie County, Iowa pays $12 million to two defendants who were framed by prosecutors
On Monday Jan. 4, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court granted petitioners’ motion to dismiss the writ of certiorari pursuant to Rule 46 in Pottawattamie County v. McGhee, 08–1065, which involved whether prosecutors who try a case are entitled to immunity when sued for allegedly procuring before trial false evidence to frame a criminal defendant. The motion, which petitioners filed December 30, and to which respondents evidently consented yesterday, was precipitated by a settlement in which the County and its insurers reportedly paid plaintiffs Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee $12 million. Harrington, who spent nearly 26 years behind bars, will get a little over $7 million, and McGhee (whose case may be marginally weaker because I seem to recall he pleaded guilty again after his first conviction was overturned) just under $5 million.
The 8th. Circuit Court of Appeals had dismissed the Prosecutorial Misconduct claim, but the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari, and appeared friendly to the plaintiffs during oral arguments. This
While the settlement ends this case, this is not the last we’ve seen of this issue. Any other case which credibly presents the same issue will have an enhanced chance of being granted, because the Court has a demonstrated interest in the issue. The facts of Pottawattamie County were particularly sympathetic, which made it more cert-friendly than the run-of-the-mine case; but at this point, I think the Court is interested in the issue and won’t need outrageous facts to grant.