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Supreme Court drops key case on limits of immunity for prosecutors

Prosecutors alleged to have framed two innocent men for a murder agreed on a $12 million settlement Monday. A Supreme Court ruling could have clarified the limits of immunity for prosecutors – a legal issue that had even the Obama administration commenting on the case.

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The US Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a case over whether prosecutors who knowingly procure false testimony that leads to a wrongful conviction can later be sued for damages.

Lawyers announced that the parties in the underlying lawsuit had agreed to end the case in a $12 million settlement.

The two innocent men, Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee, had spent nearly 26 years in prison for a murder they didn’t commit. After the truth was discovered and they were released, they sued the prosecutors in Pottawattamie County, Iowa.

An investigation revealed that the prosecutors helped assemble and present false testimony that led to their convictions. Messrs. Harrington and McGhee had been sentenced to life in prison at hard labor with no possibility of parole.

The prosecutors fought the civil lawsuit, arguing that they were entitled to absolute immunity from such litigation for actions taken at trial.

The high court heard oral argument in the case on November 4. The case is Pottawattamie County v. McGhee and Harrington.

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