The Marshall Project | By Andrew Cohen
A federal appeals court tried to answer those thorny questions on October 20th in a case that could soon find its way to the justices in Washington.
In Long v. Pfister, a five-member majority on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals half-heartedly ruled in favor of prosecutors, and against Paysun Long, an Illinois man who has been convicted of murder twice following trials that were constitutionally suspect. Three judges on the appeals panel dissented, expressing disbelief that their colleagues would let prosecutors get away with a lie. Here’s a case that has generated less attention than it deserves for what it says about how fast and loose the law can be when it comes to the sanctity of sworn testimony.
Long’s attorneys wouldn’t tell me if they plan to ask the Supreme Court to hear the case. But it seems an obvious avenue of appeal, giving the justices an opportunity to reaffirm the principle they announced in 1959 and in 1972, that the government has a constitutional and ethical obligation to ensure that it speaks out against perjury when it unfolds in the middle of a trial in front of the jury.