Wednesday, February 3, 2016

D.C. District Court Proposes New Rules on Prosecutors Disclosure Obligations

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has released a proposed rule which would codify the government's discovery obligation set out by the Supreme Court. Most significantly, it imposes specific timelines on prosecutors and defines for the first time what constitutes "favorable information" under the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1963 decision in Brady v. Maryland the Court there declared that prosecutors have a constitutional obligation to provide the defense with "evidence favorable to an accused . . . where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment." The failure by a prosecutor to disclose appropriate information is often referred to as a "Brady violation."
In recent years the importance of the rule has been highlighted by the Innocence Project, and the recognition by some - such as former Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr., who declared that systemic difficulties - including lack of guidance - help to explain the "Brady violations" that underlie some wrongful convictions. - gwc

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