Daily Archives: October 14, 2011

Napue v. Illinois And SCOTUS “Fact Finding”

I love this case, in some ways.

When prosecuting Napue for the long ago murder of a cop, the prosecuting attorney introduces a cooperating co-defendant witness named Hamer, who gives the whole supposed story.  Hamer is then cross examined about whether he’s been promised a deal by the government in exchange for his testimony and denies it.  The prosecuting attorney on redirect makes quite a show of the emphatic denials that there is any agreement between him or his office and Hamer for Hamer’s testimony.

Napue is convicted and sent to prison for 199 years.  Hamer is returned to prison as well, to serve out his sentence.

Years later this same prosecuting attorney has gone into private practice, something that happened back in the 1940’s and 50’s but never happens now.  But that’s another subject.

In any case, what does the former prosecutor do?  He files…

“…a petition in the nature of a writ of error coram nobis on behalf of Hamer. In the petition he alleged that as prosecuting attorney he had promised Hamer that if he would testify against Napue, “a recommendation for a reduction of his [Hamer’s] sentence would be made and, if possible, effectuated.”  The attorney prayed that the court would effect “consummation of the compact entered into between the duly authorized representatives of the State of Illinois and George Hamer.”

What a fucking moron.  Napue gets wind of the coram nobis petition and makes a big fuss:

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