Washington, D.C., prosecutors are exploring whether a D.C. police department computer glitch resulted in evidence issues that may have affected thousands of cases, reports the Washington Post. In letters to defense attorneys, U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said some information recorded by officers investigating crimes was inadvertently omitted from police reports. Those reports, which may include witness accounts or evidence forms, are given to defense attorneys.
“It was possible that in pending and past cases, [the police department] was in possession of information that should have been disclosed to the defense and had unwittingly failed to provide that information,” Machen said. He said the problem dates back to 2012. Defense attorneys argued it was unclear what information was left out and questioned why prosecutors — and not defense attorneys — are deciding whether those details would have changed the defense strategy. Julia Leighton, general counsel for the District's Public Defender Service, said the disclosure “called into question the fairness of the trials.” The problem stems from a computer program known as I/Leads, which has been in use by D.C. police since September 2012. Authorities said some of the information that officers included as they filled out reports failed to download into the final version.