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Sunday’s New York Times hits the nail on the head in an editorial here in which it laments that violations of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 50-year-old Brady rule, which requires prosecutors to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense, remain ”widespread.” TheTimes might be overly optimistic, however, in its belief that open-files reforms like those adopted in North Carolina and Ohio that require full disclosure of law enforcement’s investigative files in a case will necessarily solve the problem.
Such rules will work only if prosecutors and law enforcement agencies follow them, and that’s far from guaranteed. In an Ohio case I am currently investigating, for example, information about the identification of an uncharged suspect was disclosed only after we learned from a witness that she had picked the man out of a photo lineup. The identity of a second suspect, which a co-defendant says she gave to both a detective and the prosecutor before she…