Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Stunning Rebuke" in the Silicon Valley

Breaking News: In November, we wrote about prosecutorial misconduct in the Silicon Valley, California and how one prosecutor was grilled for his misconduct.

The consequences of this misconduct has now led to one man being sent free after four years in jail. The San Jose Mercury News just posted this story in the last hour:

In a stunning rebuke to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, a county judge on Wednesday ordered a man who had been sentenced to 38 years to life freed on the grounds the trial prosecutor in the child molestation case committed "numerous acts of misconduct,'' including giving false testimony.

The ruling by Superior Court Judge Andrea Y. Bryan means Augustin Uribe, 66, will be released within several days after spending four years behind bars for a crime that even the alleged victim says he did not commit.

The decision casts a shadow over the career of Deputy District Attorney Troy Benson and further tarnishes the reputation of the District Attorney's Office, which has come under fire in recent years for alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

Uribe's conviction on charges he sexually assaulted a young relative was overturned by an appellate court in 2008, after a finding that the District Attorney's Office had improperly withheld a videotape of the purported victim's physical exam, which was turned over only after Uribe had been sentenced. A defense expert then reviewed the videotape and said it contradicted the prosecution witnesses' testimony that the child had been assaulted.

Prosecutors have since acknowledged the existence of about 3,300 of those videotapes dating back to 1991 that were never provided to trial attorneys, as required by law.