Prosecutors Regularly Fail to Utilize Brady Lists as Tool to Force Police Reform 

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Although activists and civil rights advocates say prosecutors can use Brady Lists, also known as “potential impeachment disclosure” lists, which flag officers whose credibility is in question due to misconduct, to shine a light on troubled officers and refuse to put forward cases from those officers with tarnished histories, they sometimes don’t even compile the lists, reports the Associated Press. In addition, wide disparities in what offenses land officers on them are prevalent across the country, with excessive force often failing to merit inclusion.

Many prosecutors and police unions have gone to great lengths to keep Brady List information from becoming public. Defense attorneys, public defenders, civil rights groups and even some prosecutors are calling for an increased use of Brady Lists and a broadening of the offenses that will land a police officer on them, while police unions are resisting those efforts. Amy Parker of the King County Department of Public Defense called it imperative for officers’ violent histories to be exposed. Brady Lists stem from a ruling in the 1963 Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland mandating prosecutors turn over exculpatory evidence to defense attorneys, including information that could be used to question the officers’ credibility. But the ruling did not define the steps prosecutors and police departments must take to ensure defendants are informed or whether lists of troubled officers must be kept at all. The result, critics say, is a mishmash of policies that vary state to state — and even jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

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