The Law Office of Lance Fletcher Reviews 2014's Biggest Changes in Criminal Law
Do You Have A Right to Know About Pending Civil Lawsuits Against Police Witnesses?
In People v. Garrett, Garrett was convicted in Suffolk County of second-degree murder based in part on a confession that he allegedly made after an interrogation by two detectives. Garrett argued that he was subjected to physical and psychological abuse and was not given
Miranda warnings. The detectives testified that no such abuse occurred and that the interrogation was lawful.
It was later discovered, and never disclosed to Garrett, that one of the detectives was facing a federal lawsuit for allegedly coercing an arson confession by beating the person accused with a phone book. The District Attorney on Garrett's case denied knowing about this until after the trial was over.
The Court of Appeals ruled that the DA's failure to inform Garrett was not a constitutional violation because the DA did not know about the federal civil lawsuit until after trial and that Garrett did not prove that he was actually negatively impacted by the nondisclosure. Unfortunately, this ruling was directly in the District Attorney's favor.