Monday, May 12, 2008
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Chapman affirmed the dismissal of the indictment in a case where a grand jury had indicted defendants in a "complex securities trading scheme" and failed to disclose over 650 pages of documents in discovery to the defense. This is likely a case that the government may have wished that they had not appealed. The court's conclusion says it all:
"The district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the indictment. The government egregiously failed to meet its constitutional obligations under Brady and Giglio. It failed to even make inquiry as to conviction records, plea bargains, and other discoverable materials concerning key witnesses until after trial began. It repeatedly misrepresented to the district court that all such documents had been disclosed prior to trial. The government did not admit to the court that it failed to disclose Brady/Giglio material until after many of the key witnesses had testified and been released. Even then, it failed to turn over some 650 documents until the day the district court declared a mistrial and submitted those documents to the court only after the indictment had been dismissed. This is prosecutorial misconduct in its highest form; conduct in flagrant disregard of the United States Constitution; and conduct which should be deterred by the strongest sanction available. Under these facts, the district court did not abuse its discretion in characterizing these actions as flagrant prosecutorial misconduct justifying dismissal. Nor did it abuse its discretion in determining that a retrial—the only lesser remedy ever proposed by the government—would substantially prejudice the defendants."