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Balshy Trial Brief

Balshy Trial Brief

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Published by c.coyle
balshy crawford trial brief
balshy crawford trial brief

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Published by: c.coyle on Aug 18, 2008
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11/09/2012

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIASTEVEN D. CRAWFORD, :Plaintiff : NO. 1:CV-03-0693:v. : JUDGE CAPUTO:JANICE ROADCAP, et al, :Defendants :
DEFENDANT JOHN C. BALSHY’S TRIAL BRIEFI.
 
Procedural History
Plaintiff commenced this action in the Dauphin County Court of CommonPleas by filing a Complaint alleging violations of state and federal Constitutionalrights. Specifically, the Plaintiff’s Complaint set forth actions under 42 U.S.C. §§1983, 1985, and 1986, alleging that the Defendants had maliciously conspiredagainst Plaintiff in a racially-motivated prosecution by their alteration andconcealment of exculpatory evidence. In addition, the Plaintiff’s Complaint setforth counts for fraud and false imprisonment. The case was subsequentlyremoved to federal court.At the close of discovery, the Defendants each filed Motions for SummaryJudgment. In his Brief in Response to Defendants’ Motions for SummaryJudgment, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985 and
 
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1986, and his claims for fraud and false imprisonment. The claims against Balshyremaining for disposition at trial are (1) a §1983 claim based upon malicious prosecution and
 Brady
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violations, (2) a state law conspiracy claim, and (3) a statelaw intentional infliction of emotional distress claim (Judge McClure’s Order,February 3, 2006).
II.
 
Statement of Facts
This case results from the September 13, 1970 murder of thirteen year oldJohnny Mitchell, whose body was found in a garage owned by Steven Crawford’sfather. His head had been smashed with a hammer. The police investigationrevealed a latent palm print on the driver’s side of one of the vehicles in the garage.The blood type of the spatter found on the vehicle matched Johnny Mitchell’s blood type. Witness interviews were conducted and Steven Crawford (“Plaintiff”) became a suspect. Plaintiff submitted an inked palm print which was late positively matched to three palm prints lifted from the crime scene, including theone on the car in the garage.On November 29, 1972, before Plaintiff was charged with Mitchell’smurder, Balshy accompanied Simpson to the State Police Crime Lab. Balshy wasnot a prosecuting officer, and the State Police were not directly involved, in theMitchell homicide investigation. Balshy was along simply to “open doors” for 
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 Brady v. Maryland 
, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194 (1963)
 
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Simpson and the Harrisburg police, who did not have their own crime lab. The purpose of the visit was to see if small reddish-brown specks seen on the ridges of the bloody palm print were blood and, if so, human blood. Following standardState Police procedure, Balshy submitted a carbonized “Request for LaboratoryAnalysis” form, and signed it as “Requestor”. Simpson could not directly makesuch a request because he was not a member of the State Police. The request wasassigned to Roadcap, who Balshy had never met previously. She performed aBenzedine test which was positive for blood. Roadcap wrote her original Roadcapnotes on the top copy of the “Request for Laboratory Analysis” form.Plaintiff was later arrested and charged with Johnny Mitchell’s murder.Between 1974 and 1978, Plaintiff was prosecuted in three successive murder trialsand was convicted by each jury for the first degree murder of Johnny Mitchell. Hewas sentenced to life imprisonment. In each trial, the crucial piece of evidence that placed Plaintiff at the crime scene at the time of the murder was the bloody palm print discovered on the car inside the garage. Testing of the lifted palm printconfirmed the presence of human blood on the ridges, thereby permitting theexperts to conclude, at all three trials, that Plaintiff’s left palm was covered withthe Decedent’s blood at the time he touched the vehicle and was not, as Plaintiff asserted, an old print that had been spattered with the Decedent’s blood.

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