Judge dismisses supermarket mogul’s racketeering convictions

Recently I wrote about Supermarket mogul George Torres trial. (See post here). I was suprised to see this story in The L.A. Times that reported that Torres was set free in his case after prosecutors failed to turn over recordings with possible exculpatory information regarding an informant who testified for the prosecution at trial. Tuesday, the Judge granted the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss based on a constitutional violation—Torres claimed that he was unable to assert his constitutional right to confront his accusers when the government didn’t divulge that exculpatory information existed.

Torres still faces sentencing on lesser convictions but this ruling appears to significantly limit his exposure to prison time. Torres was facing murder and racketeering charges.

U.S. v. Brady is the Supreme Court case that controls this sort of prosecutorial misconduct. In Brady, the prosecution had withheld from a criminal defendant a confession by a co-defendant in his murder trial. The defendant challenged his conviction, arguing the prosecution jeopardized his Due Process rights. The Supreme Court found that withholding evidence violates due process “where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment” and as a result of the ruling, prosecutors are required to affirmatively notify defendants and their attorneys whenever a law enforcement official involved in their case have a record for knowingly lying in an official capacity.

Comments about this post can be directed to L.A. racketeering attorney William Weinberg at (714) 834-1400.