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When a capital conviction is reversed over the wrongful striking of one potential juror

Jul 21, 2011 When a capital conviction is reversed over the wrongful striking of one potential juror

On July 14, 2011, I blogged about Norfolk federal trial Judge Raymond A.] Jackson’s reversal of Justin Michael Wolfe’s capital conviction, primarily due to his finding of serious failures of the prosecution to disclose exculpatory/Brady evidence. It is ironic that a case opinion as important as this one is difficult to find through a Google.com search (which search was necessary, seeing that court filings in this case are not available on the PACER court docketing system; perhaps that is due to the age of the case).

Thanks to the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Central District of California for having posted the 57-page opinion in Wolfe.

The opinion is important reading for the Brady/exculpatory evidence issues alone. The opinion is important, also, for having reversed Mr. Wolfe’s capital conviction on the additional ground of a finding of the trial judge’s wrongful striking for cause of one of the potential jurors. Wolfe opinion at 53-55.

The Wolfe opinion further highlights the need to abolish the death penalty. Mr. Wolfe’s habeas corpus victory came with a lineup including apparently pro bono or low bono attorneys from a well-resourced large corporate law firm. The nation’s lawyers’ resources in general are too thin to provide such dedicated and engaged work to every single death penalty case at the trial, appellate and habeas corpus levels. Consequently, based on the foregoing considerations alone, wrongfully convicted death row inmates will continue to be executed.

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