Defense: Prosecutors Should Disclose All Favorable Evidence


Washington, D.C.’s public defender service has called for a rule that would require prosecutors to disclose all favorable information to criminal defendants before trial, reports In a letter to the the federal judiciary's policy-making body, Public Defender Service leaders said changes to the U.S. Attorneys' Manual in 2006 did nothing to reduce the incidence of violations in the pre-trial discovery process.

“What is needed, in our view, is reform with the force of law,” the public defenders said. They based their conclusion on a review of discovery violations by the U.S. Attorney's office for the District of Columbia, the nation’s largest. The office prosecutes both federal and local crimes.)The letter highlights five cases in which judges vacated convictions or dismissed prosecutions after finding Assistant U.S. Attorneys failed to meet their obligations to turn over material to defendants. Attorneys Brendan Sullivan and Robert Cary, who represented former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens in a corruption case that was thrown out, sent a similar letter to the Judicial Conference's criminal rules advisory committee last month. They said prosecutors were unlikely “in the heat of battle to turn over information that they know will hurt their case” so long as they can later argue that they believed it was immaterial to the defense.

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