Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Reversal for Brady Violation Absent Specific Request for Information

n People v Hunter (6/12/08) a unanimous Court of Appeals held that in a sex case, where the defense was consent, it was a Brady violation requiring reversal for the prosecutor to withhold from the defense information that in another pending case the same complainant has accused a man of rape and his claim was that the sex had been consensual. The Court rejected the argument that the subsequent guilty plea by the defendant in the other case obviated the Brady violation. The Court held that the post-trial plea was irrelevant as to the People's duties pursuant to Brady at the time of trial and before. If the information known to the People when this case was tried was "favorable to the accused" and "material" within the meaning of Brady, defendant had a due process right to obtain it, and that right could not be nullified by post-trial events.

Further, the Court ruled that this information that, complainant had accused a second man of rape, as she had defendant; that her encounter with this other man, like her encounter with defendant, took place in the accused man's home; and that, according to that man, the complainant willingly had sex with him and then lied about it, would have been admissible at the defendant's trial during the cross-examination of the complainant.

Finally, and most unusually, despite there not being the specific request for such information (that is almost always required to find Brady violations), the Court concluded that under the facts of the case (in which the jury acquitted on some of the counts) that it was a reasonable probability that the verdict would have been different if the information had been disclosed, and that the information, therefore, was material.

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