An Ohio inmate got a boost from new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in her first written opinion on the highest court in the land. According to her, Ohio is guilty of suppressing evidence that would have helped the inmate at trial, CNN.com reported.
The Supreme Court has refused to take the case, brought by Davel Chinn, who was convicted of killing a man in an attempted robbery. Chinn was sentenced to death after an accomplice identified him in a deal.
The court filing argues that the police violated the 1963 case Brady v. Maryland, which declared the prosecutors intentionally chose not to disclose juvenile records that the defendant had a "moderate range" of intellectual disability. In that case, the state focused on that testimony from someone who had questionable credibility.
In the case of Chinn, the state failed to disclose that records prejudiced him because the accomplice failed to "identify him as the killer, testify accurately and remember key dates."
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"Lower courts ruled against Chinn, holding that the failure to overturn evidence only violates Brady if the information is 'material' and only if there is a reasonable probability that – had the records been disclosed – the result at trial would have been different. The courts said that Chinn had failed to meet that standard," said the report.
In her opinion, Jackson wrote that there was “no dispute” the state had “suppressed exculpatory evidence” and questioned how the lower courts applied the “materiality standard.” That, she explained, violated Brady. Given that a defendant has a "low burden of proof" to show "reasonable probability" for a different result.
“Because Chinn’s life is on the line, and given the substantial likelihood that the suppressed records would have changed the outcome at trial,” Jackson also said.