Common Cause Files Amicus Brief Calling for Justice in Case of Wrongful Conviction, Imprisonment

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Common Cause filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of Missouri in State ex. rel. Eric Schmitt v. the Honorable Robin E. Fulton, calling for justice for Michael Politte, who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for more than 20 years.

Politte was released on parole last April after serving 23 years after he was charged with and convicted of murdering his mother at the age of 14. The Missouri Crime Lab agreed that the evidence against Politte was scientifically invalid. Following Politte’s release on parole, Washington County Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Hedgecorth filed a motion to vacate Politte’s conviction, stating there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Politte was falsely convicted of the crime.

This motion was made possible by the Missouri Legislature’s enactment of RSMo Section 547.031, a statute that for the first time in state history allows local prosecutors to move to vacate convictions when they have evidence that a person is innocent or wrongfully convicted. 

The Attorney General’s Office has argued against the law, asserting that local prosecutors can’t represent the State in a motion brought under the statute. The attorney general also claims that the State has interest in the finality of Politte’s lawful conviction, regardless of whether it was wrongful. Common Cause argues that the attorney general’s stance of opposing all motions to vacate, regardless of their merit, was rejected by the legislature by its enactment of RSMo 547.031.

“Effectively administering justice is essential to a functioning democracy, and our justice system must be able to take accountability and admit when a mistake may have been made,” said Keshia Morris Desir, Census & Mass Incarceration Project Manager. “Former Attorney General Schmitt’s* challenge of the motion to vacate Mr. Politte’s conviction defies Missouri’s law and our constitutional protections.”

“To put it simply, AG is thwarting justice and disregarding the will of the people by ignoring the rules put in place by our elected officials.”

To read the amicus brief, click here


*Note Eric Schmitt is now the US Senator and there is a new AG.