Monday, April 25, 2011

New boss, same as the old boss? (UPDATED)

So, Eric Holder has been saying all the right things about criminal discovery issues and has even issued guidelines to line AUSAs about more liberal disclosure, but there is increased grumbling amongst defense lawyers and judges that nothing has really changed (and in many cases, has gotten worse). In fact, DOJ is lobbying hard against changing Rule 16 to allow for more liberal disclosure of Brady/Giglio material.

I don't typically blog about my cases, but here's my most recent experience with this issue (without naming names): I was in court last week where DOJ was taking the position that even though their two critical witnesses lied to the grand jury, they did not need to disclose the grand jury testimony because Jencks trumped Brady. I kid you not. Needless to say, the district judge disagreed. But is this really the sorts of positions that DOJ should be taking?

Here's an op-ed by Jim E. Lavine and Ellen S. Podgor about DOJ not practicing what it preaches:

The practice of prosecutors failing to abide by constitutional and ethical
standards in providing important materials to the defense is not unique to
these cases, but it is particularly problematic to see when prosecutors are
then turning around and charging crimes against others who allegedly do the
same thing -- fail to give the other side materials they believe are
important to their investigation.

That’s exactly what they did when they decided to indict a former vice-president and associate general counsel of Glaxo-Smith Kline. Prosecutors charged her with crimes that included obstruction of justice and concealment of documents from an FDA inquiry, arguing that the counsel failed to provide materials to the federal agency.

The problem here is clear. The three new policies of the Department of
Justice are all internally controlled, provide for no external monitoring
and allow each local United States Attorneys’ Office to set up their own
discovery policies for their individual office. There is no real

In fact, the Department of Justice has opposed making any rule changes that
would include some outside scrutiny. How many chances should they get?

Update -- Here is the proposed amendment to Rule 16 that DOJ opposes. Someone explain to me why this is controversial:

Rule 16. Discovery and Inspection
* * * *
(H) Exculpatory or Impeaching Information. Upon a defendant’s request, the government
must make available all information that is known to the attorney for the government or agents of law enforcement involved in the investigation of the case that is either exculpatory or impeaching. The court may not order disclosure of impeachment information earlier than 14 days before trial.


Anonymous said...

This is what Lanny Breur is teaching the DOJ lawyers.

All of whom are under 39 years old, and learning dishonesty as part of their trade.

And then they will "leave" DOJ and become "defense" attorneys and expect people to refer thm business or respect them.

What a joke.

Rumpole said...

David- in all seriousness, in your case, how did you learn about the false testimony to the GJ to begin with?