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Criminal Law: Habeas Relief – New Evidence – Brady Claim

Where the state did not disclose to a murder defendant that another inmate was found leaving the prison yard with a weapon at the time of the crime, the state’s failure to disclose this evidence was an objective factor external to the defense that constituted “cause” to overcome the objection that the defendant failed to raise the issue at trial, and the defendant established prejudice by showing that the undisclosed evidence was favorable to him and that it was suppressed by the state, so the conviction is vacated.

Evidence not favorable

Dissenting opinion by Russell, J.: “Because the sharpened screwdriver is not consistent with the victim’s wound, it does not establish a direct connection between Smith and the murder. This evidence is not favorable to Griffin in that it is not exculpatory or impeaching. Failing to meet the first prong to prove a Brady violation, Griffin has not met his burden as a habeas corpus petitioner.”

Conviction vacated.

State ex rel. Reginald Griffin v. Denney (MLW No. 62538/Case No. SC91112 – 14 pages) (Supreme Court of Missouri, Teitelman, C.J.; Wolff, Breckenridge and Stith, JJ., concur; Russell, J., dissents in separate opinion filed; Fischer and Price, JJ., concur in opinion of Russell, J.) Original proceeding in habeas corpus (Kent E. Gipson, Kansas City, Missouri, for petitioner) (Stephen D. Hawke, Jefferson City, for respondent).

Read the full text of this opinion. (PDF)