In a justice system based on "innocent until proven guilty," this main principle seems awfully hard to fulfill when key members aren't playing by the rules. As recently evidenced in New Orleans and perpetuated throughout the country, prosecutors are struggling to follow key pieces of the Constitution.
The New York Times shared an article highlighting two men who were convicted of murder in 1975. They spent 27 years in jail and were exonerated in 2002. But on what grounds? The prosecution involved in the case were pinpointed with failing to yield critical information that held value for the defendants. According to Brady v. Maryland, this is a direct violation of the Constitution.
What does Brady v. Maryland mean for prosecutors?
This decision made by the Supreme Court requires all prosecutors to divulge any evidence that has the ability to exonerate a defendant. According to the defendants of the murder case, the prosecutors did the exact opposite and they sued the office of the New Orleans district attorney because of it.
That same office clearly did not train prosecutors in the Brady rule, which led to the exoneration of at least 12 people since 1990. Because the government is only liable if a court finds a repeated failure to train on the Brady rule, it seems like the men's lawsuit would pass with flying colors. In reality, it is quite the opposite.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied the lawsuit in favor of the district attorney's office. This decision left people scratching their heads, especially as one Justice said that this office completely ignored the basis constitutional rights of defendants.
Fixing the Problem Starts Right Here
The defendants of the murder case are now asking for a review of their case and approval to sue the New Orleans prosecutor's office for money damage because their rights were violated. If approval is granted, this could be a real wakeup call for the government.
Prosecutors in other states are following in the path of New Orleans and it is difficult to hold anyone truly accountable. Ohio and North Carolina are some of the only states requiring prosecutors to submit their criminal case files to the defense.
Whatever happens, it will signify a turning point for prosecutors in the United States. Whether that turning point will be in a positive or negative direction remains to be seen.
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How Wyndel Darville Fights Prosecutorial Misconduct
"Brady violations are born out of ends justify the means prosecutions. Since September 11, 2001, State and Federal prosecutors have been given almost limitless powers with little accountability for mistakes, omissions and sometimes unconstitutionally malicious acts to obtain convictions. To defend you, I use retired former FBI and Homeland Security agents to help build your defense. In criminal litigation the best defense is a good offense." - Wyndel Darville
If you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of a wrongful conviction and a violation of the Brady Rule, contact us now to schedule a free initial consultation with Mr. Darville, Sarasota criminal defense attorney, and explore your options for taking legal action.