Brief filed: 08/13/2021
Smith v. Maryland
Court of Special Appeals of Maryland; Case No. CSA-REG-0283-2021
On appeal from Talbot Cnty. Circuit Ct. No. 20-K-00-006884
NACDL’s amicus brief argues that the State’s misconduct in this case was truly startling; indeed, it is among the most serious examples of prosecutorial misconduct in amici’s collective experience. The record shows that the prosecution: (1) suppressed “a fountain of favorable evidence from the defense”; (2) “[s]ponsored dubious claims from a credibility-ravaged witness who tainted every other prosecution witness”; (3) “made serial false representations to the defense, to jurors, and to the trial court about critical exculpatory evidence”; and (4) testified falsely under oath to hide its misconduct. This misconduct was an attempt to shore up a weak case in which there was no physical evidence to link Mr. Smith or his co-defendants to the crime, and there was physical evidence that pointed away from them. Authority from jurisdictions throughout the country supports the dismissal of the indictment under these circumstances. Prosecutorial conduct that is “so grossly shocking and outrageous as to violate the universal sense of justice” requires dismissal of a resulting prosecution on due process grounds. A case also can be dismissed under a court’s supervisory powers even if “the conduct does not rise to the level of a due process violation.” The egregious misconduct found by the court of appeals satisfies either standard. Retrial would not adequately address the egregious misconduct that occurred in this case because (1) the extensive misconduct here was unusually extreme and shocks the conscience, and it created pervasive prejudice that would prevent Mr. Smith from receiving a fair retrial, and (2) any remedy short of dismissal would be inadequate to deter the type of intentional, willful, and reckless misconduct that the court of appeals recognized and the State now admits. While dismissal is an extreme remedy, courts have invoked it regularly in cases with extreme facts of the type found here.
Jonathan M. Cohen, John Longstreth, and Jessica Liu, K&L Gates LLP, Washington, DC; David B. Smith, NACDL Amicus Committee 4th Circuit Vice-Chair, Washington, DC; Megan E. Coleman, MarcusBonsib, LLC, Greenbelt, MD; Tricia Rojo Busnell, The Innocence Network, Kansas City, MO.