Massachusetts Supreme Court says prosecutors must provide information about bad cops to criminal defendants

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The policemen are lying. The cops lie enough there is a term for that: With suspicion. Honest prosecutors don’t want lying cops on stage to tarnish their case with impeachable testimony. Unfortunately, Police unions Strong enough to thwart this Little accountability. The “Brady Lists” are compiled by prosecutors. It contains the names of the officers whose record of telling the truth Very terrible Prosecutors don’t want to rely on … Shall we say … Misrepresentations In court.

Unfortunately, these lists are often meticulously protected secrets. Judges are not aware of the officers’ tendency to lie. None of the accused In many cases. But they are called “Brady” lists because they are supposed To be disclosed to the accused. “Brady” refers to Brady v. MarylandWhere it was decided that the Public Prosecution is obligated to hand over possible denial information to the accused to ensure their right to a fair trial. This includes anything that may indicate that the policeman’s testimony may not be telling the truth.

It has a Massachusetts Supreme Court Rule [PDF] Plaintiffs are required to inform defendants of the officers who created their “Brady” lists. Two policemen were given false statements in deciding to use force of immunity for their testimony before a grand jury. The public prosecutor claiming a different criminal case handed this information to the defendant. The policemen challenged the move, claiming that their immunity before a grand jury should have prevented acquittal information from being presented to the defendant and discussed in a public hearing. (H / t Matthew Segal)

The policemen have argued that there is no constitutional obligation to disclose this information (under the Constitution of the United States or the Commonwealth of Nations) unless failure to do so changes the outcome of the trial by creating reasonable suspicion where it was not there before. The Supreme Court says the argument is wrong under both constitutions.

First, plaintiffs have more than one constitutional obligation to disclose negative information; They also have a broad duty under the Mass of R. P. 14 (a) (1) (3) to disclose[a]Any facts of a negative nature. ”This duty is not limited to important information to such an extent that disclosure of it would create reasonable suspicion that would not otherwise exist; it includes all information that“ tends to ”indicates that the defendant may not be guilty or“ inclined ” To “show that a conviction or lesser punishment would be appropriate.


Second, even if prosecutors have their constitutional obligation to disclose, and not the broad duty under our rules, we do not want plaintiffs to withhold innocence information if they believe they can do so without crossing the line in violation of the defendant’s right to a fair trial..

The accepted standard under the constitution is not to “see what you can get away with.” This is a commitment, not a kindness that is posted at the discretion of the Prosecutor.

The prosecutor should not attempt to limit how much patent information can be withheld without violating the defendant’s right to a fair trial. Instead, once the information is identified as negation, it must be revealed – period. Where the prosecutor is not sure whether the information is exculpatory, the prosecutor must err on the side of caution and disclose it.

In this case, the information was definitely related to the possible negative taxon. Certainly, the lying policemen who admitted before a grand jury that they falsified the reports should be considered accountable witnesses. Whether or not the information is determined admissible at trial is off topic.

[T]The final admissibility of the information does not determine Prosecutor Brady’s obligation to disclose it. When the information shows, as is the case here, that a potential police witness lied to conceal a fellow officer’s unlawful use of excessive force or lied about the defendant’s behavior and thus permitted a false or exaggerated criminal charge to be prosecuted, disclosure of that information may cause defense attorneys , Or his investigator, to investigate in depth the past data and the officer’s behavior to determine whether the officer lied again to conceal a fellow police officer’s misconduct or to fabricate or exaggerate the accused’s criminal behavior.

The policemen also argued that their immunity from prosecution during their testimony before a grand jury should protect them from any negative consequences. The court says wrong again. Immunity covers only prosecution for recognized crimes. It is not a shield against the reputational damage that might result from publishing or handing over this information to the accused.

An immunized witness, like other people who have not been immunized, may prefer that the testimony not be published by the prosecutor, especially if it will expose the witness’s dirty actions, but this preference does not affect whether the information is denied or should be provided to the other accused. Once disclosed, the protected testimony can be used to isolate the fortified witness, provided that testimony is not used against the witness in a criminal or civil trial other than false testimony. In short, the obligation of the public prosecutor to disclose the information of the denial of the charge is the same for the testimony as it is for all other testimonies. There is no higher Brady standard applied to a prosecutor for revealing testimony.

The court concludes this by setting the law: This is Brady information that should be disclosed to the defendants. The Supreme Judicial Council is not ridiculous.

[W]He concluded, as the Prosecutor did, that prosecutors here have an obligation on Brady to disclose relevant patent information to unrelated criminal defendants in cases where the petitioner is a potential witness or prepared a report in the criminal investigation. This obligation still exists even if this information is obtained in testimony to a grand jury under an immunity order. The Prosecutor may fulfill this obligation without prior judicial approval; A judge’s order is only required to issue a preventive order limiting publication of grand jury information.

On a larger scale, we conclude that when the public prosecutor determines from the information in his possession that a police officer lied to conceal the unlawful use of excessive force, whether by him or another officer, or lied about the defendant’s behavior and thus permitted a false or exaggerated criminal charge for prosecution, The public prosecutor’s obligation to disclose patent information requires that the information be disclosed to a defense attorney in any criminal case in which the officer is a potential witness or a report in a criminal investigation.

This is the norm in Massachusetts. The bad cops notice that there is nothing they can do to escape the consequences of their actions. This is how it should be. Now, if only the courts could make sure that the prosecutors and police departments really were Aggregation Brady lists, we’ll be ready. At least in this Commonwealth.

Massachusetts Supreme Court says prosecutors must provide information about bad cops to criminal defendants

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