Oral argument: Nov. 8, 2011
Appealed from: Supreme Court of Louisiana (Sep. 24, 2010)
Petitioner Juan Smith was the sole person convicted of killing five people in a Louisiana home. His conviction was primarily based on the testimony of a witness, a survivor of the shooting, who identified Smith as one of the gunmen responsible for the crime. In subsequent applications for review, Smith contended that his trial was unfair because the prosecution intentionally suppressed material evidence. In this case, Smith argues that the suppression of that evidence constituted a violation of his constitutional due process rights; he supports this argument by seeking to show that the suppressed evidence undermines confidence in the jury’s verdict against him. While Smith insists that he is entitled to a new trial, Respondent Burl Cain, warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, insists that the evidence was neither material nor suppressed, thus opposing a new trial. This case may affect the standard to which a prosecutor is held with regard to disclosure of evidence.