Judge orders Innocence Project to hand over conversations related to man's wrongful conviction

By Takesha Thomas | Feb 15, 2019

PHILADELPHIA - A district court has awarded, in part, a subpoena requiring that the Pennsylvania Innocence Project turn over documents related to a man wrongly convicted of murder.

On Jan. 17, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted Shaurn Thomas' motion to enforce a subpoena served to Marissa Bluestine, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Thomas sued the City of Philadelphia and others in an effort to obtain documents concerning interactions with William Stallworth. 

According to court papers, Thomas brought suit in 2017 against the City of Philadelphia and police officers who allegedly fabricated evidence against him in the 1990 murder of Domingo Martinez. Thomas was wrongfully convicted, and some 24 years later he was exonerated through the work of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. 

Stallworth testified that he saw "Thomas participate in the murder." However, he later recanted his testimony. That testimony, attorneys for Thomas argue, is contained within documents that are in Bluestine's possession.

"It is undisputed that Ms. Bluestine waived the attorney-work product privilege as to the two conversations with Mr. Stallworth discussed in her affidavit when she intentionally submitted the affidavit," the court ruled. 

"And although the court does not conclude or otherwise suggest that Ms. Bluestine selectively withheld these documents to try to achieve some inappropriate advantage for Mr. Thomas, the withheld documents relate to the same issues discussed in those conversations as recounted by Ms. Bluestine, issues that are of significance in this case."

The court added that Bluestine, "shall produce the four documents she withheld from her production," also ruling that she does not need to produce un-redacted versions of the documents she already produced.

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City of Philadelphia U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

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