Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What's good for Senator Stevens ought to be good for my guys, too

In several of my cases, the state has failed to turn over witness interviews or exculpatory information (which they are required to do; it's called a Brady violation if they don't), but not once has the state asked a court to dismiss my client's charges as a result. Ted Stevens is far luckier.

There were hints all throughout the former Senator's trial that the prosecution was committing misconduct. The judge held the prosecutors in contempt at one point. So it was no surprise to hear from an FBI whistle-blower that evidence had been withheld from the defense. Stevens' convictions should be overturned for this violation. And I've certainly argued that egregious prosecutorial misconduct should result in a dismissal of charges, so I would applaud that result in this case.

But I've never gotten the prosecutor to agree that a conviction should be overturned when the state has failed to turn over evidence to the defense. More defendants, and not just the former Senators of the world, should get this kind of relief from the state after Brady violations have been uncovered. It's unacceptable that individual prosecutors still try to withhold evidence and hope they'll get away with it, but it's nice to see at least one instance of that individual's office stepping up and acknowledging a defendant is entitled to relief due to the misconduct.

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