Would stronger "Brady" rules (the court case requiring prosecutors to disclose exculpatory evidence) or penalties for violating them have kept Woodard out of prison for a crime he didn't commit? That's the kind of outcome you hear referred to as "getting off on a technicality," but Woodard's case shows why those "technicalities" are there - to prevent wrongful convictions.
James Lee Woodard was seeking a new trial at the 1981 hearing, alleging that prosecutors did not fully disclose information about Ms. Jones' whereabouts the night she was killed. The judge, John Ovard, who was also the trial judge, denied the new trial and formally sentenced him.
The judge and the district attorney's office could have righted Mr. Woodard's wrongful conviction in 1981, just months later, said Natalie Roetzel, executive director of the Innocence Project of Texas.
"It's one of the most disturbing things about this case," she said. "Essentially, that was ignored because the investigators had the suspect they wanted."
How many other Texas defendants in cases without DNA were also wrongly convicted after Brady claims were denied on appeal? There's no way to tell, but there needs to be some way to ensure prosecutors hand over all the information they're supposed to give defendants. When you're aiming to eliminate someone's liberty for decades, that's not the time to be playing hide the ball.
Woodard was another case spearheaded with the Dallas DA by the Innocence Project of Texas - good job, folks!