Prof. Colin Miller notes that prosecutor discipline for Brady violations is “rarer than steak tartare.”
He reports to case of a NY prosecutor suspended for two-years because of significant Brady violations.
On May 9, 2017, the former homicide prosecutor was caught withholding exculpatory material from Messiah Booker, a man charged with first-degree murder who had maintained his innocence. Mr. Booker was arrested and spent more than 18 months in jail awaiting trial before his defense lawyer discovered that Mr. Kurtzrock had altered hundreds of pages of police records to remove a wealth of exculpatory information, including evidence pointing to another suspect he knew Mr. Booker’s lawyer had been investigating. The prosecutor had also removed the covers of two police notebooks to make it look like his altered versions of the documents were the originals.
Upon discovering Kurtzrock’s violation of Brady v. Maryland and New York law, then- Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota demanded Kurtzrock’s resignation and dismissed Booker’s murder charge mid-trial (allowing him to plead to a greatly reduced non-murder charge). The presiding judge called the case “a travesty of justice.” The District Attorney’s office proceeded to discover that three other defendants’ cases Kurtzrock was prosecuting (involving Booker’s co-defendants) were also tainted by misconduct, and dismissed those murder charges as well. The District Attorney’s Office launched an unprecedented review of all of Kurtzrock’s cases to see if any others were tainted by Brady violations.