Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What should happen to prosecutors who violate Brady? (UPDATED)

That's the question discussed in this WSJ article, which explains that prosecutors are rarely punished:
Federal prosecutors are rarely punished for failing to meet their constitutional obligations to provide defendants with evidence that points toward their innocence, according to available data. A report published early last year by the Federal Judicial Center, an arm of the federal court system, surveyed more than 600 federal judges and found that 30% reported having one or more such disclosure violations by prosecutors in the past five years. Those judges said, according to the study, that they found the prosecutors in contempt less than 1% of the time and only recommended possible discipline by the Justice Department or state bar in a few of the cases. *** The Stevens case report pointed to the 2011 Federal Judicial Center study that found 38 of the nation's 94 federal court districts had issued specific disclosure requirements regarding Brady and other evidence. The report said that if such a specific order had been issued in the Stevens case, some of the prosecutors might have been open to charges of criminal contempt.
UPDATE -- This blog covered the need for Brady reform before and the recent bill introduced by Republican Sen. Murkowski.... I guess I shouldn't be surprised that DOJ is opposing the bill. BLT covers that opposition here. And here is the entire DOJ statement on the matter.

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