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Further comment on Moldowan case: impact on Brady rights

One of the primary areas of disagreement amont the Sixth Circuit judges who decided the Moldowan case related to the justification for allowing some of Moldowan's claims to proceed against the City of Warren defendants who handled his prosecution.  Moldowan served 12 years in prison for his ex-wife's kidnapping and rape before being exonerated.  During his incarceration, key evidence admitted against him was recanted or discredited and other, exonerating evidence known to police but not disclosed to Moldowan's attorneys, was identified.  In defiance of a Court order, evidence from his original trial was destroyed by a City employee.

While a majority of the Sixth Circuit agreed that Moldowan's claim should be allowed to proceed against governmental actors who violated reasonably clear constitutional and civil duties owed to Moldowan, they disagreed on who could be sued and on the justification for suit.  Some of the judges would have held that Moldowan could not sue officers who failed to turn exculpatory evidence over to prosecutors and would have immunized the City for destroying evidence.  These judges maintain that a strict reading of Moldowan's rights precludes him from holding police civilly responsible for failing to turn exculpatory evidence over to court officers such as the prosecutor.  In essence, this minority of judges would hold that the laws governing police conduct control criminal prosecutions but do not impose on authorities any duty to the accused.  The majority concluded otherwise and require the authorities to compensate Moldowan for his damages if there was clearly illegal conduct by them.

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