November 23, 2009
Change The Discovery Rules
The letter below was written in April 2009, but it surfaced for me this past week - - It's a letter from Hon. Emmet G. Sullivan to Hon. Richard C. Tillman, chair of the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure. It's a powerful letter that states:
"I write to urge the Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure (the "Rules Committee") to once again propose an amendment to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 requiring the disclosure of all exculpatory information to the defense."
Although the Stevens case was dismissed by AG Holder, and one should applaud him for this move, discovery violations need to have a legal basis for rectifying the wrong (after all, we may not have AG Holder in perpetuity). As stated by Hon. Sullivan:
"A federal rule of criminal procedure requiring all exculpatory evidence to be produced to the defense would eliminate the need to rely on a 'prudent prosecutor' deciding to 'err on the side of transparency, ..., and would go a long way towards furthering 'the search for the truth in criminal trials' and ensuring that 'justice shall be done.'" (citations omitted)
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