A federal appeals court says Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators can be held liable for withholding evidence from two murder defendants who have since been exonerated.
The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday would allow the lawsuits brought by Francisco Carrillo and Frank O'Connell against three sheriff's officials to proceed.
The appeals court said the sheriff's officials — Craig Ditsch, J.D. Smith and Eric Parra — were not immune from liability because the law at the time of their murder investigations clearly established that they had to turn over exculpatory evidence.
A call to an attorney at the law firm representing the sheriff's officials was not immediately returned.
Courts overturned O'Connell's conviction in 2009 and Carrillo's conviction in 2011. Both men had spent years in prison.