A Dale County Circuit Court has ordered a new trial for Emanuel Gissendanner because his trial lawyers’ poor performance and the prosecution’s failure to turn over evidence violated his constitutional rights. The ruling came after the same judge who presided over the original trial heard compelling testimony from alibi witnesses, forensic experts, and family members that raised questions about whether Mr. Gissendanner committed the capital murder for which he was sentenced to death.
Mr. Gissendanner’s trial lawyers did not talk to these witnesses or obtain expert help for the defense at trial, even though the law required them to investigate the case fully.
In addition, the court found that a new trial is required because the prosecution violated its duty to turn over helpful information to the defense. Mr. Gissendanner’s new lawyers discovered the suppressed information and showed that it could have been used to undermine a key piece of the State’s case if the prosecutor had disclosed it as the law requires.