Yesterday a settlement ended Pottawattamie County v. McGhee, a Supreme Court case that raised the question of when prosecutors can be held personally liable for misconduct they commit while accumulating evidence against a defendant. Terry Harrington and Curtis W. McGhee, who served 25 years for the 1978 murder of a retired police officer before being released, sued Dave Richter and Joseph Hrvol, the Pottawattamie County, Iowa, prosecutors who sent them to prison, accusing them of fabricating evidence, coercing witnesses, and hiding exculpatory evidence. The issue before the Court, which heard the case in November, was whether Richter and Hrvol committed these abuses in their roles as prosecutors, in which case longstanding precedent would make them immune from lawsuits, or in their roles as investigators, in which case they could be held personally liable. The $12 million settlement by the prosecutors and the county suggests they feared the Court would reach the latter conclusion.
[Thanks to Mark Lambert for the tip.]