Oklahoma Supreme Court Suspends Former Prosecutor for Misconduct in Death Penalty Cases

On June 25 (Tuesday), the Oklahoma Supreme Court suspended former Oklahoma County prosecutor Robert Bradley Miller for his misconduct in murder trials that eventually led to the release of two death row inmates. In 2006, a federal judge dismissed the murder convictions of Paris Powell and Yancy Douglas after finding that a deal made between the prosecutor and the key witness in the case was never disclosed to the defense attorneys. In Tuesday’s ruling, the Oklahoma Supreme Court found that Miller misused the subpoena process to force witnesses to cooperate, failed to disclose evidence to defense attorneys, and prevented the defense from accessing evidence. In a 5-2 decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered that Miller be suspended from practicing law for 180 days and pay a fine of $12,800. Although the majority agreed to the suspension, Justice Steven Taylor wrote in his dissent that Miller should have been disbarred. Justice Taylor wrote, “Whether it was ‘decades ago’ or today, no attorney should ever commit the ‘reprehensible’ conduct in death penalty (or any other) litigation as detailed in the majority opinion and trial panel report. The actions of the respondent take us into the dark, unseen, ugly, shocking nightmare vision of a prosecutor who loves victory more than he loves justice.”

(S. Murphy, “Ex-prosecutor suspended over death penalty case,” Associated Press, June 25, 2013). See Innocence.