• SNITCHING: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice
  • U.S. Attorney General's Guidelines on the FBI's Use of Confidential Human Sources
  • Sarah Stillman, The Throwaways, The New Yorker (2012) (article on the use of juvenile informants)

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Not "simply a thank-you": another snitch-based exoneration in Los Angeles

After serving 17 years in prison for murder, Obie Anthony was exonerated last Friday. Anthony was represented by the Northern California Innocence Project and the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent. The judge found that the key witness--a pimp who received leniency as a result of his testimony against Anthony--lied, and that the government failed to disclose its deal with the informant. See L.A. Times story: Judge overturns murder conviction in 1994 slaying, and press release. Although the informant was promised a lighter sentence for testifying, prosecutor Scott Collins denied there was a deal. "It was not a deal in exchange for testimony," he said. "It was simply a thank-you for cooperating with the LAPD in a homicide investigation." Whether we label such arrangements a "thank you," deal, benefit, or something else, the fact remains that informants can reasonably expect to be rewarded for their testimony and are therefore incentivized to lie in ways that other witnesses are not.