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SCOTUS, Preliminary Hearings & Brady Material

November 28th, 2013 Comments Off on SCOTUS, Preliminary Hearings & Brady Material

The United States Supreme Court is deciding whether to hear a case where the prosecution is arguing – Brady evidence is not required to be disclosed before a preliminary hearing.

The cases is: California v. Gutierrez

ISSUES PRESENTED

Does the due process obligation, outlined in Brady v. Maryland, require prosecutors to provide exculpatory evidence to a defendant before a preliminary hearing at which a magistrate determines whether sufficient cause exists to require the defendant to stand trial?

May a state permit a defendant to move for pre-trial dismissal, pursuant to Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), upon learning that the prosecution failed to disclose material exculpatory information in its possession at the time of the preliminary hearing?

CLAIMS & FACTS

• Gutierrez is charged with molesting his two foster daughters.

• The Prosecution fails to turn over evidence that one of the foster children had twice made false claims about her mother’s boyfriend assaulting her.

• Subsequently, the defense discovers police reports about the previous false claims;

• Lower court dismisses the case based on prosecutorial misconduct.

APPELLATE COURT

• The First District Court of Appeal in California upholds the lower court’s dismissal.

• A three-judge panel unanimously ruled that the state’s obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence to criminal defendants under Brady v. Maryland (1963) applies not just trials but also to preliminary hearings. The California Supreme Court denied review.

UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT

Sep 16 2013 – Petition for a writ of certiorari filed.

Oct 17 2013 – Brief of respondent Gutierrez in opposition filed.

Oct 17 2013 – Brief amicus curiae of Jackie Lacey, District Attorney for the County of Los Angeles filed.

Oct 18 2013 – Brief amicus curiae of California District Attorneys Association filed.

Oct 31 2013 – Reply of petitioner California filed.

Nov 4 2013 – DISTRIBUTED for Conference of November 26, 2013.

A decision from the Supreme Court on whether to hear the case should come soon.

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