WASHINGTON, DC (Nov. 21, 2011) – Today’s decision by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan underscores the need for federal legislation setting forth with complete clarity prosecutors’ “affirmative duty to disclose evidence favorable to a defendant.” Judge Sullivan, ruling that prosecutors who indicted and tried the late Sen. Ted Stevens, and at least two other Alaskan state officials, committed serious misconduct by withholding evidence favorable to the defendants, thereby denying them due process and their right to fair trials. An investigation by two attorneys appointed by the court, Henry F. Schulke and William B. Shields found that the investigation and prosecution of Sen. Stevens et al. were “permeated by the systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence that would have independently corroborated his defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness.”
But because he did not issue an order that was “clear and unequivocal,” Judge Sullivan said, the prosecutors did not commit criminal contempt of court.
In effect, although the court’s investigators, and the judge himself, found that the six federal prosecutors from the Justice Department’s own Public Integrity Section committed egregious misconduct, prosecution for criminal contempt would not be appropriate. It is hard to disagree with that result; criminal contempt is a serious charge and no citizen should ever be prosecuted if there is any doubt as to whether a conviction can be and should be obtained.
Legislation proposed by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers would make perfectly clear to federal prosecutors that they have a continuing obligation to disclose favorable information to a defendant in a timely fashion or sanctions will be imposed.
Commenting on Sullivan’s order today, NACDL President Lisa M. Wayne said, “I hope two things come out of the Stevens case.
“First, I hope that the Court orders release of Mr. Schulke’s report, which is said to be 500 pages or more. Second, I hope Congress realizes that sometimes the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the land, needs to be enforced with appropriate legislation. NACDL’s proposed legislation would create clear and meaningful discovery standards governing the prosecution’s duty to disclose any and all facts favoring the defendant or his case.”
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
Jack King, Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7628 or email@example.com.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.