Brady delayed is justice denied


See State v. Tennessee. A post-trial discovery case. The court begins, “The primary issue in this case involves the State’s delayed disclosure of obviously exculpatory evidence.” Overall a very nice cases discussing Brady-plus’s [[1]] application to post-trial matters. 

  • Colin Miller in discussing this case observes that, “In Brady v. Maryland, the United States Supreme Court held that the State has an affirmative obligation under the Due Process Clause to timely disclose material exculpatory evidence. There is a ton of precedent analyzing when evidence is material and exculpatory. Conversely, there is sparse case law regarding what is “timely” disclosure. But Thursday’s opinion of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee in State v. Allen addressed this latter question.”
  • “In this case, what Ms. Allen stated in the first email—that Defendant did not rape her and that another man did—could not have simply been a mistake made by Ms. Allen. Ms. Allen was either telling the truth or lying in that email. If she was telling the truth in the email, then she was lying in her preliminary hearing testimony. If she was telling the truth in her testimony, she was lying in her email. Because the prosecution suppressed the obviously exculpatory first email until after Ms. Allen’s death, Defendant was never able to question Ms. Allen about its veracity….” Slip op. at 24.
  • “Here, the emails were obviously exculpatory, and the State had a duty to disclose them without a request by Defendant. Although the State provided the emails in discovery before trial, it suppressed the emails for over two years during which time Ms. Allen died.” Slip op. at 24.
  • On a separate the court addressed the prosecutor’s use of the word “victim” throughout the case. In a pretrial ruling on a motion to preclude that the court and ordered the use of “alleged victim.” Despite that order the prosecutor used the reference to “victim” “for a total of forty times.” While not finding that error dispositive, the court addressed the error under a cumulative error analysis. The court found this error combined with the Brady error cumulatively “denied Defendant the right to a fair trial.” Slip op. at 35.

[1]Brady-plus” is my shorthand reference to Brady and its progeny in both federal and military case law and avoid a string cite.

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