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Symposium to examine Louisiana exoneration case

Loyola press release - October 24, 2011

Former death row inmate John Thompson, founder and director of Resurrection after Exoneration, will share his powerful story about his experiences with the justice system during “Prosecutorial Immunity: Deconstructing Connick v. Thompson.” The symposium is part of Loyola Week and presented by the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and Loyola’s Journal of Public Interest Law. It will be held on Thursday, Nov. 3, from 12:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. in the College of Law, Room 308. The event is free and open to the public. For $25, attorneys can receive 4.33 hours of CLE credit, including 1.5 ethics hours.

On March 29, 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States decided a landmark case involving Thompson, who was incarcerated for 18 years, including 14 years on death row in Louisiana’s Angola Prison for murder and robbery. One month before his scheduled execution date, his investigator discovered exculpatory evidence that a prosecutor had intentionally suppressed. The discovery of this new evidence ultimately saved Thompson’s life and led to his release from prison.

“The prosecutor in this case intentionally hid evidence that showed Thompson’s innocence. The Supreme Court reviewed this case, and in effect, gave immunity to district attorneys’ offices around the country,” said Imre Szalai, associate professor of law at Loyola and one of this event’s organizers. “The Supreme Court’s decision makes it very difficult to hold prosecutors or government officials accountable for such wrongdoing, and if they would have held the district attorney’s office responsible here, such accountability would have improved the administration of justice.”

In addition to Thompson, the symposium will bring together distinguished experts who will discuss the many legal issues of the Supreme Court case, which has important implications for our criminal justice system and the accountability of local governments for the misconduct of its prosecutors. Speakers include Barry Scheck, a leading expert regarding the use of DNA evidence; Sheldon Nahmod, a leading expert regarding government liability for violations of civil rights; Bennett Gershman, a leading expert regarding prosecutorial misconduct; Denise LeBoeuf, director of American Civil Liberties Union's Capital Punishment Project; and several other experts and attorneys who were involved in this landmark litigation. Loyola College of Law professors Bill Quigley and Dane Ciolino will serve as moderators.

Visit the JPIL website for more information and a full schedule of speakers.

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