Brady disclosure

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This article is about evidence handling in U.S. criminal trials. Brady disclosure_sentence_0

For rules in American football, see Tom Brady § The Brady rule. Brady disclosure_sentence_1

Brady disclosure consists of exculpatory or impeaching information and evidence that is material to the guilt or innocence or to the punishment of a defendant. Brady disclosure_sentence_2

The term comes from the 1963 U.S. Brady disclosure_sentence_3 Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, in which the Supreme Court ruled that suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to a defendant who has requested it violates due process. Brady disclosure_sentence_4

Following Brady, the prosecutor must disclose evidence or information that would prove the innocence of the defendant or would enable the defense to more effectively impeach the credibility of government witnesses. Brady disclosure_sentence_5

Evidence that would serve to reduce the defendant's sentence must also be disclosed by the prosecution. Brady disclosure_sentence_6

In practice this doctrine has often proved difficult to enforce. Brady disclosure_sentence_7

Some states have established their own laws to try to strengthen enforcement against prosecutorial misconduct in this area. Brady disclosure_sentence_8

Definition of the Brady rule Brady disclosure_section_0

The Brady doctrine is a pretrial discovery rule that was established by the United States Supreme Court in Brady v. Maryland (1963). Brady disclosure_sentence_9

The rule requires that the prosecution must turn over all exculpatory evidence to the defendant in a criminal case. Brady disclosure_sentence_10

Exculpatory evidence is evidence that might exonerate the defendant. Brady disclosure_sentence_11

Examples Brady disclosure_section_1

Examples include the following: Brady disclosure_sentence_12

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  • The prosecutor must disclose an agreement not to prosecute a witness in exchange for the witness's testimony.Brady disclosure_item_0_0
  • The prosecutor must disclose leniency (or preferential treatment) agreements made with witnesses in exchange for testimony.Brady disclosure_item_0_1
  • The prosecutor must disclose exculpatory evidence known only to the police. That is, the prosecutor has a duty to reach out to the police and establish regular procedures by which the police inform the prosecutor's office of anything that tends to prove the innocence of the defendant. Not all exculpatory evidence is required to be disclosed by Brady and its progeny; only evidence that is "material to guilt or punishment" must be disclosed because its disclosure would create a reasonable probability of changing the outcome of the proceeding. The prosecutor is not obligated to personally review police files in search of exculpatory information when the defendant asks for it, but to allow the defense reasonable access. The Supreme Court observed in Strickler v. Greene, "Thus the term 'Brady violation' is sometimes used to refer to any breach of the broad obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence – that is, to any suppression of so-called 'Brady material' – although strictly speaking, there is never a real 'Brady violation' unless the nondisclosure was so serious that there is a reasonable probability that the suppressed evidence would have produced a different verdict."Brady disclosure_item_0_2
  • The prosecutor must disclose arrest photographs of the defendant when those photos do not match the victim's description.Brady disclosure_item_0_3
  • Some state systems have expansively defined Brady material to include many other items, including for example any documents which might reflect negatively on a witness's credibility.Brady disclosure_item_0_4
  • Police officers who have been dishonest are sometimes referred to as "Brady cops." Because of the Brady ruling, prosecutors are required to notify defendants and their attorneys whenever a law enforcement official involved in their case has a sustained record for knowingly lying in an official capacity. The growing use of Brady, both in the federal and state sectors, is one of the most important changes affecting police officers' employment.Brady disclosure_item_0_5

Procedures for compliance Brady disclosure_section_2

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  • In order to ensure compliance with Brady, the United States Supreme Court repeatedly urged the "careful prosecutor" to favor disclosure over concealment. Conformity with Brady is a continuing obligation of prosecutors. Some prosecuting attorney offices have adopted and created specialized procedure and bureaus to meet their burden.Brady disclosure_item_1_6
  • Pitchess v. Superior Court is the source for a "Pitchess motion" in California. Such a motion can be made by a criminal defendant to discover complaints made against a police officer, and the investigation of those complaints, such that they are contained in the officer's personnel records. The motions can be made in a California Superior Court under California Evidence Code 1043-1046. Notwithstanding, because the broad nature of the discovery that the associated court rule and statute provide, getting actual records can be complicated. In California, there is a carefully prescribed procedure governing such request, and making disclosure without an order is a crime. The statutory scheme was developed, in part, because law enforcement departments had developed a practice of purging their files concerning misconduct claims made against their officers.Brady disclosure_item_1_7

See also Brady disclosure_section_3

Brady disclosure_unordered_list_2

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: disclosure.