MONROE v. BLACKBURN
Annotate this Case
476 U.S. 1145 (1986)
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U.S. Supreme Court
MONROE v. BLACKBURN , 476 U.S. 1145 (1986)
476 U.S. 1145
Ronald S. MONROE
Frank BLACKBURN, Warden.
Supreme Court of the United States
May 27, 1986
On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
The petition for a writ of
certiorari is denied.
Justice MARSHALL, with whom Justice BRENNAN joins, dissenting.
I would grant certiorari in this case to resolve the serious questions it raises concerning the scope of a defendant's rights under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), during the period following his conviction. While lower courts here have adhered to our precedents in finding petitioner's Brady rights to have been violated, the remedy ordered impermissibly dilutes those rights even as it recognizes them.
In 1980, after a previous conviction had been overturned, petitioner was brought to trial in New Orleans, once again charged with the 1978 murder of Lenora Collins, a neighbor. The State's case consisted of eyewitness identifications by the victim's two children, both of whom were present when the assailant broke into their mother's bedroom. State v. Monroe, 397 So.2d 1258, 1268 (La.1981). Accepting the testimony of the two children, who at the time of the murder were aged 12 and 11, the jury re-
jected petitioner's alibi, found him guilty of first-degree murder, and unanimously recommended the death sentence.
Six months after petitioner's conviction, but while his appeal was still pending, the New Orleans Police Department was contacted by Detective Joseph Gallardo of the Pontiac, Michigan, Police Department. In the course of investigating one George Stinson's murder of his common-law wife in Michigan, Gallardo had received information suggesting that Stinson may also have murdered his previous wife, three years earlier in New Orleans. His previous wife was Lenora Collins, for whose murder petitioner has been sentenced to die. Two months later, Detective Gallardo again called the New Orleans police. This time, he related to Sergeant John McKenzie the substance of an interview he had had with Stinson's cellmate during which the cellmate had quoted Stinson as first confessing to the Michigan murder and then saying that "the same thing happened" to his first wife, Lenora Collins. Noting that a second source had corroborated this admission, Detective Gallardo also reported having received information that Stinson had threatened Lenora Collins' two children into identifying petitioner as their mother's killer.
All this information was carefully recorded by Sergeant McKenzie, who then dispatched his notes to the detectives who had been involved in the Collins investigation. These notes did not trigger further police inquiries. Neither was their existence ever disclosed to petitioner, who under Louisiana law, could have sought the remand of his case so that he might move in the trial court for a new trial. See State v. Spell, 388 So. 2d 754 (La.1980). Indeed, it was not until late 1983 that independent investigation by petitioner's counsel led him to Detective Gallardo, who told of Stinson's incriminating admissions and of the fact that the New Orleans police had long before known of the new evidence. Petitioner thereupon filed a motion in New Orleans Criminal District Court seeking a new trial or, in the alternative, postconviction relief, and also a stay of his execution, then scheduled for January 4, 1984. In this motion, petitioner claimed that the State had unconstitutionally suppressed material, exculpatory evidence. While petitioner was still unaware of the existence of Sergeant McKenzie's actual notes, his counsel's independent efforts in Pontiac enabled him to present the Criminal District Court with all of the information contained in the notes. [476 U.S. 1145 , 1147]