Another Overturned Death Sentence, but What Happens to the Misbehaving Prosecutors?

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

The American Bar Association Journal reports:

The California Supreme Court has ruled a death-row inmate is entitled to a new penalty hearing because the prosecution withheld evidence in his 1987 trial that he may have been threatened by a Colombian drug cartel.

The inmate, Miguel Angel Bacigalupo, will be sentenced to life in prison if prosecutors don’t pursue the capital sentence, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. A prosecutor in the case, Deputy District Attorney Joyce Allegro, is now a judge in Santa Clara County.

Allegro did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

Bacigalupo told police that a drug dealer had threatened to kill him and his family if he did not carry out orders to murder the owner of a jewelry store and his brother, according to the opinion (PDF). Allegro told the jury there was no evidence of any threats and argued the murders occurred during a store robbery, the Chronicle says. An investigator for the DA’s office, however, had information from an informant that the killings were ordered because the victims had stolen drugs, according to findings by a judge who served as a referee in the habeas appeal.

The DA’s office had argued it met its legal obligations by giving the defense a police report mentioning the confidential informant, who said she had learned the motive for the killings was revenge rather than robbery. The DA’s office says there was misconduct by the investigator, but it is unclear if Allegro had knowledge of wrongdoing, the Chronicle says.

Bacigalupo is challenging his murder conviction in a separate appeal, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

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3 Responses to “Another Overturned Death Sentence, but What Happens to the Misbehaving Prosecutors?”

  1. #1 |  William Anderson | 

    When there are no constraints upon prosecutors, we get this kind of behavior. Since the courts have ruled that prosecutors have absolute immunity no matter how much they have lied and how often they thumb their noses at Brady and other important court rulings, we should not be surprised when prosecutors decide that no rules apply to them at all.

    What really is telling is that even when prosecutors decide that the U.S. Supreme Court rulings such as Brady don’t apply to them, the courts STILL refuse to discipline the offenders. So, if the justices themselves don’t care whether or not prosecutors obey their rulings, why should we be surprised when they run off the rails? Indeed, we should expect them to do just that.

  2. #2 |  Is Prosecutorial Misconduct a Product of a “Few Bad Apples,” or is the Barrel Mostly Rotten? | The Agitator | 

    […] I used to believe that myself, but no longer. In fact, given what we know about human nature and the functions of boundaries, when prosecutors know that they face no consequences for their own behavior no matter how illegal or despicable it might be, we can expect stories like what recently was posted on this blog. […]

  3. #3 |  Is Prosecutorial Misconduct a Product of a “Few Bad Apples,” or is the Barrel Mostly Rotten? « When Tennessee Pigs Fly | 

    […] I used to believe that myself, but no longer. In fact, given what we know about human nature and the functions of boundaries, when prosecutors know that they face no consequences for their own behavior no matter how illegal or despicable it might be, we can expect stories like what recently was posted on this blog. […]

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