Timothy O'Toole Quoted Regarding Prevalence of Paid Testimony to Non-Expert Witnesses in The Washington Post
"The outrageous conviction of Montez Spradley"The Washington Post
Timothy O'Toole was quoted regarding the standard practice of police and prosecutors offering reward money to non-expert witnesses in exchange for testimony, especially as it relates to the case of Montez Spradley. Spradley was wrongfully convicted of robbery and murder, based largely on evidence from a woman who was paid $10,000 for her testimony. Regarding a payment to a non-expert witness, "It just has to be disclosed," O'Toole said. "But the rules are pretty loose." This may sound like bribery, and as O'Toole points out, a 1998 panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit agreed, stating the judicial process is tainted when factual testimony is purchased. However, immediately following the court's headline-making decision, it was promptly vacated by the full 10th Circuit. Since then, testimony from paid witnesses and informants has been implicated in numerous wrongful convictions. In essence, while police and prosecutors can reward witnesses for testimony, disclosure is key. "If payments of that size weren't disclosed in this case, that's outrageous," O'Toole said.