The Supreme Court has overturned a death row inmate’s conviction of killing five people in the justices’ latest look at the conduct of prosecutors in the New Orleans district attorney’s office.
The high court voted 8-1 to order a new trial Tuesday for Juan Smith, who was convicted of five murders at a 1995 party. The only witness to identify Smith gave inconsistent statements about whether he could recognize or identify Smith as one of the killers.
Prosecutors under former New Orleans district attorney Harry Connick never gave Smith’s lawyers those statements. Prosecutors are required to do this under Supreme Court precedent.
Chief Justice John Roberts said for the court that “the undisclosed statements alone suffice to undermine confidence in Smith’s conviction.”
Justice Clarence Thomas was the only dissenter.