The Supreme Court decided Brady v. Maryland in an effort to ensure fair trials and fair outcomes. The Brady decision requires prosecutors to disclose exculpatory evidence regarding guilt of the defendant. The Brady rule is meant to ensure innocent defendants are not convicted for crimes they did not commit. This rule should have unanimous support from both prosecution and defense teams, and yet Brady violations continue to occur within prosecutor offices around the country.
No offender highlights the short comings of the current system more so than the United States Attorney’s Office. Since the Brady decision, the USAO has repeated ignored their obligation, through sheer bad-faith or a misunderstanding of their duties. Additionally, they have been staunch opponents of suggested, enhanced Brady protections. Whatever the reasons for the USAO’s non-compliance may be, one thing is clear: reform is needed.
This Article highlights the history of the USAO with respect to the Brady rule. It describes the USAO’s wanton disregard for its obligations, and discusses the appellate courts’ increasing frustrations due to their shortcomings. This Article discusses a series of infamous Brady violations, which judges and scholars have written extensively on. Finally, this Article discusses the future of the Brady rule in current Department of Justice, under the leadership of Jeff Sessions. This Article looks back on Sessions’ personal history of Brady violations, and suggests that if real reform is to occur, it is going to have to begin with court rules or the legislature.
Vida B. Johnson,
Federal Criminal Defendants Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire? Brady and the United States Attorney’s Office,
Cath. U. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.edu/lawreview/vol67/iss2/8