Why “Criminals” Should Have Rights, Cont’d

Why is it wrong to treat the accused as criminals with no rights? So innocent people aren’t locked away for 34 years:

Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro didn’t stop with a concession that Ronald Bodenheimer and another former prosecutor, Harold “Tookie” Gilbert Jr., deliberately hid a detailed police report in the case in two separate trials.

In setting Adams loose at age 61, Cannizzaro also agreed that a pair of former NOPD police detectives lied on the witness stand to help convict Adams twice in the 1979 murder of Cathy Ulfers, the wife of a former New Orleans cop who is himself now serving a life prison sentence for killing his second wife.

Former officers Sam Gebbia, who now works as an investigator for St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed, and Martin Venezia — who served a five-year prison sentence in Florida after pleading no contest in 2000 to negligent homicide — testified in those trials that no evidence or other suspects had been found before Adams gave them a statement while locked up in the Orleans Parish jail, confessing that he killed Ulfers in a $10,000 hit job.

But the police report, missing from Adams’ first trial in 1983 and again from his retrial in 1990, showed that police had found the gun used to shoot Ulfers seven times in her home in New Orleans East. Detectives also had linked the .32-caliber revolver to a man, Roland Burns, and his sister, Alece Burns. Both of them are now dead.

The report is dated Nov. 7, 1979, 10 months before Adams’ confession.

Does Bodenheimer feel any remorse?

[Bodenheimer] stridently denied wrongdoing. He and Gilbert, who is now dead, never intentionally withheld documents from Adams’ defense attorney, he said.

Bodenheimer lashed out at Cannizzaro and criticized him for “not even calling to ask” him about the discovery issue before agreeing to dismiss the indictment against Adams.

“It does the state no good to put the wrong guy in jail for a murder because then you’re leaving the real killer out on the street,” Bodenheimer said.

I agree completely it does the state no good to put the wrong guy in jail. Then why does prosecutorial misconduct continue to be a problem?

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