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Another conviction in Clark County, this one for attempted murder, is being reviewed in light of allegations that prosecutors failed to turn over information regarding payments the state made to the only person who identified the defendant, Franklin Jackson, as the shooter.

Last month the Las Vegas Review-Journal exposed a decade long practice of the DA’s office paying prosecution witnesses without disclosing the payments to defense counsel.

[D]ocuments obtained by the Review-Journal through the state public records act show:

■ Much of the money comes from a small number of private donors, including a company that gets work through the courts.

■ County auditors determined the account, established in 1989, was never approved by the County Commission, though commissioners in 2011 signed off on accepting continuing donations for it.

■ Money from the fund was used to relocate witnesses at least five times in 2008 alone, even though a county spokesman at the time said the county had no witness relocation program.

In August the Review-Journal reported that prosecutors have settled debts for witnesses — in some cases paying more than $1,000 — for at least a decade. Documents obtained by the newspaper show more than 50 payments were made, though it is unclear how many criminal cases are involved because records are spotty and [District Attorney] Wolfson will not release records showing case numbers.

This demonstrated pattern lends credence to the arguments now being made by Franklin Jackson’s attorney that the prosecution which led to his 2008 conviction for attempted murder was seriously compromised by the state failing to disclose payments to the only witness to identify him.  Again, from the Review-Journal:

Allen says in court filings she never saw the actual paperwork or any concrete details about what helping with moving expenses meant until she was asked to review records obtained by the Review-Journal.

The defense lawyer also said she takes offense with the tone of the DA’s office motion, which argues she should be punished for bringing the case back to court over the payments. DiGiacomo’s position: The money was no secret.

Allen calls the motion snarky and accusatory — it suggests she’s media-hungry — while dodging what her client wants to know: Why wasn’t the payment detailed to the defense?

The Nevada Supreme Court overturned a conviction after finding prosecutors didn’t provide the defense “full disclosure” because they only spoke to defense attorneys about evidence and did not share actual documents.

As the fallout from the undisclosed payments continues, the same issue is currently being reviewed in a death penalty case, where the state never notified the defense that it had paid rent for one of the survivors of the attack that resulted in the defendant’s conviction. “Judge David Barker will hear that case Nov. 14. Barker has said he plans to issue a written order, an indication the judge is giving it extra attention.”

 

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