United States v. Bowen

799 F.3d 336 (2015)

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United States v. Bowen

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
799 F.3d 336 (2015)

  • Written by Liz Nakamura, JD

Facts

Five police officers in New Orleans, Louisiana, (the police officers) (defendants) shot a group of unarmed men, killing two and injuring others. The police then orchestrated a cover-up. The police officers were tried in federal court and convicted on felony charges. However, it then became known that several federal prosecutors had been posting anonymous, online comments about the trial throughout its duration. The government disciplined the prosecutors after a lengthy investigation fraught with delays. The police officers moved for a new trial, arguing that prosecutorial misconduct created a prejudicial atmosphere that had a negative impact on the outcome of their case. The police officers did not demonstrate that evidence of the prosecutors’ misconduct, if presented at a new trial, would result in an acquittal. The federal government (defendant) challenged, arguing that a new trial could not be granted unless the police officers presented evidence that there was a specific prejudice to the verdict. The district court granted a new trial, holding that (1) specific prejudice is not a prerequisite to granting a new trial; and (2) a new trial was warranted because it was impossible to accurately measure the impact of the prosecutors’ misconduct on the jury and the fundamental fairness of the trial. The federal government appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Jones, J.)

Dissent (Prado, J.)

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