Friday, April 6, 2012

Will the Supremes Take a Discovery Case

In the wake of the Schuelke/Shields report and the introduction of new discovery legislation, one has to wonder whether the Supreme Court will take a case that raises a Brady discovery issue. At their doorsteps is the case of  James A. Brown, a case from the Enron days. As previously noted (here) Brown, is a former Merrill Lynch executive who "was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for his testimony before the Enron grand jury about a transaction between Merrill and Enron in late 1999." There are important issues here like the appropriate standard of review for Brady cases. Should it be "clear error" or should it be de novo. (see here)  The case also examines "materiality," a term that has created some confusion. What must a prosecutor provide to the defense counsel. And isn't it odd that the adversary in the process is making the determination for what the defense is entitled to receive. The case looks at summaries being provided to defense counsel. Bottom line - summaries are not the same as the real thing.

In the reply brief recently filed, they argue-

"Here, as in Stevens, many exculpatory statements appear only in raw notes of government interviews of key players. In Brown, the Enron Task Force actually yellow-highlighted these notes before trial – along with prior testimony and FBI 302s – indicating that the information met the requirements of Brady and was material, but suppressed them anyway. While continuing to deny that any evidence fell within Brady, new prosecutors recently disclosed 6,300 pages including much (but still not all) of the evidence suppressed by the Task Force."  (Reply Brief - Download FILED REPLY ON CERT.)

The government's brief sees things differently - Download SG OPP32312. 

This case is distributed for conference on April 20th.

(esp)

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Enron, Judicial Opinions, Perjury, Prosecutions, Prosecutors | Permalink

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