Opinions Relating to Orders - 2022

Anthony v. Louisiana

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied. JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE JACKSON joins, dissenting from the denial of certiorari. Petitioner Willard Anthony was charged with several counts related to sex trafficking.

At trial, the State called two witnesses who testified that they witnessed and experienced physical and sexual abuse by Anthony. Defense counsel sought to impeach these witnesses, who had been arrested but not charged with prostitution, by suggesting they may have negotiated a deal in exchange for their testimony. To rebut this suggestion, the State called as a witness the prosecutor who presented Anthony’s case to the grand jury.

The prosecutor’s testimony, however, went far beyond that limited purpose. Spanning 70 transcript pages, and over defense counsel’s repeated and vociferous objections and motions for mistrial, the grand jury prosecutor expressed his belief that Anthony was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, referenced his own investigation and evidence outside of the record, testified that he believed the State’s two witnesses were credible, and bolstered his own credibility by reiterating the sworn oath he took as a prosecutor. Anthony was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. The prosecutorial misconduct in this case is not only blatant and egregious, but a clear due process violation. The court below nonetheless held that admission of the prosecutor’s testimony was harmless error.