Kentaji Brown Jackson

Ketanji Brown, Jackson’s first written opinion as Supreme Court justice – a dissident

Ketanji Brown, her first written opinion as Supreme Court justice, stated that she would have sided alongside an inmate who claimed that Ohio suppressed evidence that could have helped him in the trial.

The appeal by Davel Chinn (who shot and killed Brian Jones in a robbery attempt) was denied by the full court.

Chinn was sentenced after an accomplice, Marvin Washington, identified him to the police.

After his conviction, Chinn claimed that the state had violated Brady v. Maryland in 1963 when it failed to reveal Washington’s juvenile records which indicated Washington had a “moderate range of intellectual disabilities.” He claimed that Washington’s testimony was the foundation of the entire state’s case and that his credibility was questionable.

Chinn claimed that Washington’s inability to reveal the records prejudiced his ability to discredit Washington’s ability for him to be identified as the killer, to testify accurately, and to remember key dates.

Lower courts ruled in favor of Chinn. They held that Brady is only violated if the evidence is “material” or if there’s a reasonable possibility that, had the records been made public, the outcome at trial would have changed. The courts ruled that Chinn did not meet this standard.

On Monday, the court said that it would not hear Chinn’s appeal. Jackson’s first written opinion, a dissent, stated that “no dispute” existed that the state had “suppressed exculpatory evidence”. She also questioned the way the lower courts applied the “materiality standard.”

She stated that to prove Brady’s violation, defendants must have a low burden to show that there is a reasonable probability of an alternative outcome.

Jackson wrote that she would have reversed the lower court because Chinn’s lives are at risk and there is a substantial chance that suppressed records could have altered the outcome of the trial. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only one who joined her.

The two liberal justices dissented in a separate case before Monday’s Supreme Court. They said they would have accepted an appeal from a Louisianan man who claims he was denied the right of fair trial after prosecutors called the assistant District Attorney – who had presented the case to the grand jury – to the witness stand.

Jackson’s written disapproval comes six months after she cast her first justice vote in July. She joined Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Elena Kagan, and Sotomayor to dissident from the court’s decision not to freeze an order from the lower court that prevented the Department of Homeland Security from implementing new immigration enforcement priorities.

Jackson, the first African American woman appointed to the high court, was sworn into office on June 30,

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