Contact: Teri Stoddard
Evidence-Disclosure by Federal Prosecutors the Focus of Proposed Bill
WASHINGTON / June 18, 2014 – The Center for Prosecutor Integrity is today releasing a proposed bill that would require federal prosecutors to provide defense attorneys access to all evidence relevant to the case. Titled the Federal Prosecutor Integrity Act, the bill would require federal prosecutors to implement an Open-File policy to make all witness statements, forensic test results, and other evidence available to the defense attorney.
Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, has charged, “There is an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land.” Brady violations refers to the practice of concealing evidence that would establish the innocence of the defendant.
According to the CPI Registry of Prosecutorial Misconduct, Brady violations are the leading type of misconduct by federal prosecutors: http://www.prosecutorintegrity.org/registry/graph/numberbymisconducttype/
The bill was developed by the Center for Prosecutor Integrity, in collaboration with It Could Happen to You and the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms.
In one of the most notorious cases of prosecutor misconduct, federal prosecutors charged Senator Ted Stevens on seven counts of failure to report gifts. Four months after his conviction, an FBI whistleblower revealed that prosecutors had withheld key witness statements and memos. In one of his first official acts, Attorney General Eric Holder petitioned the judge to set aside the conviction.
Prosecutor ethics will be the focus of a national Innocence Summit, slated to begin this Friday in Washington DC: http://www.prosecutorintegrity.org/conference/
“As a former district attorney, I found an Open-File policy allowed the case to be resolved more fairly and quickly because the defense attorney was able to see all the evidence,” notes CPI Advisory Board chairman Phillip Kuhn. “It nearly defies belief that in this day and age, prosecutors are still concealing evidence that would keep an innocent man from going to jail.”
Open-File policies are in effect in several states, and have been shown to be effective in assuring full disclosure of evidence. The full text of the Federal Prosecutor Integrity Act can be seen here: http://www.prosecutorintegrity.org/legislation/
The Center for Prosecutor Integrity, a 501(c)3 organization, is working to preserve the presumption of innocence, assure equal treatment under law, and bring an end to wrongful convictions through the enhancement of prosecutor ethics: www.prosecutorintegrity.org