In 1963, there was a case that changed the face of criminal law. The case was heard before the United States Supreme Court, and it was Brady v. Maryland. In Brady, the doctrine or rule (the terminology depends on who you speak to) requires that the prosecution must turn over all exculpatory evidence to the defendant in a criminal case. Exculpatory evidence is evidence that might exonerate the defendant. To learn more about this, we spoke to some of the top lawyers in the State of Michigan.
Matthew McManus is the Managing Member of McManus and Amadeo in Washtenaw County, Michigan. (www.Mcmanusamadeo.com). McManus is known as one of the top business attorneys in Michigan. He provided insight when he said, “In criminal cases, we see a lot of civil litigation spin-offs when a prosecutor does not hand over all of the evidence. This is where different fields of law end up on a collision course.
Jennifer Kelley is a Senior Associate for McManus and Amadeo and has evolved into a top-flight divorce attorney. (https://www.mcmanusamadeo.com/jennifer-kelley.html). Kelley spoke on the issue when she stated, “We see a rise in divorce cases when somebody is charged with a criminal case. Let me be clear when somebody is charged, not convicted. Suppose we have a prosecutor that is playing dirty. In that case, it can affect the scales of justice, but it can destroy the family unit. That is a bi-product of the Brady Rule.”
Christian Wiesenberg is the founder of the Fidelis Law Firm and the Executive Director of the Adolescent Redemption Project. (https://www.adolescentredemptionproject.org/board-of-directors/). Wiesenberg is a top criminal attorney in Livingston County, Michigan, and added, “Prosecutorial and judicial elections are critical. Those with a history of violating one’s rights should not have the power to continue to be paid by the taxpayers. If and when this happens, your vote is as important as your motions.”
Ashlee Duplessis is the owner of Duplessis Law in Royal Oak, Michigan, and a top criminal litigator in Wayne and Oakland Counties. (https://detroitlegaldefense.com/). Duplessis added, “I often make supplemental discovery requests and create a paper trail when this occurs. Sadly, this happens more than you think, and when a motion is finally filed, the prosecution will defend it vigorously. We should always try to communicate with opposing counsel before filing motions. Still, a Brady Violation is so essential to a defense we often have no choice.”
Megan Mast is an Associate Attorney for Tannis-Schultz in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and one of the top criminal defense lawyers in Kent County. (https://www.tanisschultz.com/about-us/megan-a-mast/). Mast said, “We have a case right now where in addition to filing a Brady Motion, we are also going to file Michigan’s version of a “Pitchess Motion” because our private investigator uncovered police corruption. While Pitchess was born in the California Superior Court, the theories learned from that case play well into an MRE 403 motion, especially on a CSC case. This motion often appears when there is a Brady Violation.”
William Amadeo is a Partner at McManus and Amadeo and arguably the top criminal defense lawyer in Michigan. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/bill-amadeo-5031a925/). Amadeo stated, “Paper trail the hell out of your requests. It’s always funny how the prosecutor never forgets to disclose a confession. Still, they were unaware that the complaining witness in a case had accused other people of the same crime. We have to reach beyond the discovery. I hate when there is a case with critical evidence missing, and the prosecutor will say, “I gave you what I had.” We need to step our game up and find what they didn’t hand over. It’s amazing how an FOIA request provides more than a discovery request sometimes. I have a case right now where I have asked for evidence in an email a multitude of times mentioned in the police report. The prosecutor refuses to answer. When this happens, the prosecutor is hiding evidence and will usually get very defensive. It’s always amazing how a dirty prosecutor will think that the term Brady only refers to a Super Bowl-winning quarterback when in reality it is a term that could destroy their entire legal career.”
While the Brady Violation is dealt with differently in various counties, there is no question that the intentional withholding of evidence can set a person free if the lawyer knows how to look for the evidence.