Monday, June 17, 2013

Encouraging reform in Louisiana

The words "encouraging," "reform," and "Louisiana" rarely appear in the same sentence, but the state legislature, in what was an otherwise nightmarish session, passed and Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a new open files bill that is receiving praise from both prosecutors and defense attorneys.

The law, according to the Baton Rouge Advocaterequires "that law enforcement turn over all of the witness statements that would allow defense attorneys to see what everyone told police investigators."

I do, however, fear that there's a devil in the details. To be sure, prosecutorial misconduct in terms of suppressed information, etc. accounts for a lot of wrongful convictions. But inadequate defense attorneys are also a major cause. All the transparency in the world matters little when one is represented by somebody lacking the wherewithal to know what to do with that information.

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