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Last week a Missouri Court of Appeals vacated the conviction of Ryan Ferguson. Listeners might recall Ferguson as one of the two men accused in the 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune Sports editor Kent Heitholt. In its legal opinion, the appeals court said the prosecution violated Ferguson’s due process rights by withholding favorable information from the defense team. In this case, it was an interview with the wife of a key witness that could have undermined her husband’s testimony.
This type of evidence suppression or withholding, which is known as a Brady violation, may be more common than you think. A 1999 Chicago Tribune report on prosecutorial misconduct found that 381 homicide convictions were later vacated because prosecutors hid evidence or allowed witnesses to lie.
This week on Intersection, we’ll take a closer look at Ryan Ferguson’s case, and learn more about Brady violations.
Bill Ferguson is the father of Ryan Ferguson.
Rodney Uphoff is a professor in the MU School of Law.
John Roodhouse is a partner in the law firm of Jones, Schneider and Stevens, LLC.
Charles Atwell is an attorney with the law firm of Foland, Wickens, Eisfelder, Roper & Hofer, P.C.
Full disclosure: Atwell also worked with a law firm that represented Ryan Ferguson, although Atwell was not directly involved in the case.