Oral argument: Oct. 6, 2010
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Aug. 10, 2009)
42 U.S.C. § 1983, BRADY VIOLATION, MUNICIPAL LIABILITY, FAILURE-TO-TRAIN LIABILITY
John Thompson was wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years following a trial during which the prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence, in violation of Brady v. Maryland. Thompson brought suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the district attorney's office is liable for failing to properly train its employees on the requirements of Brady. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found in favor of assigning liability to the district attorney's office. Petitioners, including District Attorney Harry Connick, appealed to the Supreme Court. Connick claims that there was no obvious need to train prosecutors regarding Brady standards and that liability should not attach to the office when there was no notice that the training program needed reform. Respondent Thompson contends that the prosecutors’ lack of training amounted to a deliberate indifference to preserving constitutional rights and that liability may properly attach to the district attorney's office without a past history of violations. This decision will determine the extent to which a municipality may be liable for a single action by one of its employees.