Each criminal defendant has a legal right to win their case under the U.S. Constitution. The federal government has an obligation to release evidence in the defendant’s favor under the Brady Rule. In New York, the use of evidence for both plaintiffs and defendants is fully protected in federal courts.
The Brady Rule
The Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland recognized that every accused defendant has the Constitutional right to receive a fair trial. Prosecutors must disclose any and all evidence to the defense that is favorable to the defendant. This is called exculpatory evidence that favors the defendant and tends to exonerate the person of guilt.
The federal government’s role
Every plaintiff and defendant should know the government’s obligations under the Brady Rule. Under the Due Process Protections Act, federal judges and prosecutors are required to abide by Brady disclosure obligations in criminal proceedings. Otherwise, they face the risks of Brady violations that may lead to contempt of court or the overturning of a conviction.
Federal judges across the U.S. have started implementing “Brady orders” to enforce this rule. Many have proposed that prosecutors should receive more training about their disclosure obligations. They have considered the use of an “open-file” policy that gives the defense team open knowledge of the government’s case files.
The government’s obligation in federal courts
Federal prosecution must disclose exculpatory evidence that is possessed by the federal government. This is a requirement under the Brady Rule to avoid undermining the defense team’s evidence. If they do not disclose this information, they could be held accountable for suppressing evidence and violating federal laws.