St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

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St. Mary's University School of Law


Justin C. Roberts

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In Brady v. Maryland, the United States Supreme Court held that the prosecution's withholding of material exculpatory evidence violated the defendant's due process rights regardless of the absence of bad faith. The implications of this duty can be seen in the case of John Thompson, a man who was convicted of murder in Louisiana in 1985 after the prosecution failed to turn over exculpatory evidence. Thompson was able to get his conviction reversed and subsequently sued the district attorney's office. This Article analyzes Brady and the decisions that followed it to outline the obligations of prosecutors who are in possession of Brady evidence. This Article then suggests several steps that district attorneys' offices can take to ensure that employees are properly trained and that Brady evidence is disclosed when required by law.