Feb. 25, 2022
Boston partner James Rollins weighs in on the use of jailhouse informants in a Law 360 story on New Jersey’s review of rules on the use of such informants. Rollins participated pro bono on the post-conviction relief team of Walter Ogrod, a death row inmate convicted largely on the “testimony” of a jailhouse informant.
Ogrod spent 23 years on Pennsylvania's death row based on a confession he said was coerced and later recanted and the testimony of a serial jailhouse informant. He was exonerated in June 2020.
Rollins said that the prosecution's use of notorious jailhouse informant John Hall was "fundamental" in securing Ogrod's conviction.
"John Hall was the gentleman who had the nickname of 'The Monsignor' because he allegedly heard more confessions than a priest," Rollins said, adding that his testimony resulted in Ogrod spending "half his life in prison."
Jailhouse informants are "inherently questionable," he said, but they become more problematic without transparency.
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