U.S. Supreme Court
$12M Settlement Ends Pending Supreme Court Case on Prosecutorial Immunity
Posted Jan 5, 2010 6:16 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
An Iowa county has agreed to pay $12 million to two men who claimed in a pending U.S. Supreme Court case that prosecutors framed them for murder during the investigation, removing their immunity from suit.
The men, Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee, spent 26 years in prison. The settlement ends the case pending before the Supreme Court, according to stories in the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press and the Christian Science Monitor.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the case settled after several justices appeared to agree that prosecutors should not have immunity if they knowingly fabricated evidence. “Facing a likely loss in the high court, the county moved to settle the case,” the Times says.
The case was argued by a Mayer Brown associate who said in an interview with the ABA Journal that he was given the chance because of the firm's entrepreneurial culture.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that prosecutors have full immunity from civil suits when presenting cases in court, but prosecutors have only qualified protection when they advise or assist police in their investigations. According to an ABA Journal account of the argument for the prosecutors, "any sins against McGhee and Harrington were washed clean when they presented the evidence in court under absolute immunity."
The case is Pottawattamie County v. McGhee.