SCOTUSblog Challenges Ruling That Lets Prosecutors Vindictively File Charges As Long As They Have Proof

tom goldstein scotusblogTom Goldstein, SCOTUSblog

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled last year prosecutors can’t get in trouble for “subjective ill-will,” meaning prosecutors have the right to file charges against you out of spite as long as they have the evidence to back it up.And now, a group of former judges and prosecutors, headed up by SCOTUSblog’s Tom Goldstein, are asking the Supreme Court to reverse the appeals court’s decision, The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog reported Friday.

In its brief, filed Thursday with the high court, the group argues prosecutors’ motives when filing charges are an important part of the judicial process.

“An indictment (or superseding indictment) filed in bad faith is no less dangerous to the integrity of the criminal justice system than a vexatious or frivolous one, and deserves no less sanction,” according to the brief, posted by Law Blog.

The Eleventh Circuit’s controversial ruling overturned a Florida court’s decision that ordered prosecutors to pay legal fees for a doctor after finding prosecutors were prejudiced against Ali Shaygan, a doctor accused of illegally prescribing pain medications.

That doctor came under government scrutiny after one of his patients died while taking methadone.

Shaygan’s doctor moved to suppress the doctor’s statements to investigators, and the government threatened doing so could be very bad for Shaygan, Reuters’ Alison Frankel previously reported.

A 141-count indictment against Shaygan ensued.

Former Sixth Circuit appeals court judge Nathaniel Jones and former Tenth Circuit judge Michael McConnell, among others, joined Goldstein in his brief.

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