Prosecutors’ Civil Liability for Brady Violations

The United States Supreme Court decided Connick v. Thompson yesterday. In a nutshell, the plaintiff, John Thompson, spent 18 years in prison as a result of a Brady violation. After he was exonerated, he sued the district attorney’s office, claiming that the office failed to train prosecutors adequately about their Brady obligations. A jury agreed … Read more

Discovery in Child Pornography Cases

There’s a recurrent discovery issue in child pornography cases. Generally, it goes like this: the defendant is arrested and charged with a child pornography offense. The prosecution contends that the defendant’s computer contains images of child pornography. The defendant retains a computer expert to examine his computer, hoping to show that the images were downloaded … Read more

Must the State Inform the Defense When a Witness Goes Missing?

I blogged recently about whether the state is obligated to produce its witnesses’ criminal records in discovery. (Recall that the answer is no, in North Carolina, with some exceptions.) Another question that sometimes comes up regarding the state’s witnesses is whether the state must inform the defense if one of its witnesses goes missing, or … Read more

Must the State Produce Its Witnesses’ Criminal Records in Discovery?

I’ve been asked several times whether the state is required to provide the defense with the criminal record of the state’s witnesses. There are two possible justifications for such a requirement. First, one could argue that disclosure is mandated by the discovery statutes, G.S. 15A-901 et seq. Second, one could argue that disclosure is required … Read more