Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Chief Judge for Eastern District of Tennessee tells AUSAs that ethical duty requires more than Brady, regardless of what the state Supreme Court has ruled -- UPDATED

A few days ago I reported that the Tennessee Supreme Court vacated an ethics opinion and held that the duty to disclose exculpatory evidence is not broader than the duty imposed by Brady v Maryland.  See here.

The Federal District Court chief judge is not happy about it.  Today the Tennessee Bar Association posted this notice:
In a rare public rebuke, the chief judge of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee says Tennessee’s Supreme Court justices have set the ethical bar for prosecutors too low.... The state Supreme Court recently sided with the three U.S. attorneys in the state and the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference in rejecting a Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility opinion requiring prosecutors to turn over all evidence helpful to the accused as soon as possible. The prosecutors had argued there was no ethical duty to turn over evidence beyond what the U.S. Supreme Court required in the Brady decision, which allowed prosecutors to withhold evidence in certain situations. Writing for the federal eastern district, Chief Judge Pamela Reeves said prosecutors who appear before that court will be expected to comply with the Board of Professional Responsibility opinion.
UPDATEHere is the text of the letter. In it, Chief Judge Pamela Reeves states, in part,
"...attorneys practicing before [the Federal District Court] should aspire to the highest standards of professional conduct, not the minimum standards.  ... We believe higher standards are especially important in cases where a person's freedom and liberty are at risk.
In this regard, the judges in our district have determined that ... Assistant United States Attorneys who appear before us will disclose exculpatory and mitigating material to a criminal defendant in the manner described in the ... ethics opinion, and certainly before any guilty plea."

Thanks to Michael Kennedy for the update.

No comments:

Post a Comment