Today the Fairness in Disclosure of Evidence Act of 2012 was introduced in the U.S. Senate. The bill would require that federal prosecutors disclose evidence that is favorable to the defendant in the course of a criminal proceeding; outline when such evidence must be disclosed; and, provide meaningful remedies for violations of the rule.
We applaud the Senate’s efforts to promote fairness in the legal discovery process by denying prosecutors the ability to withhold potentially exculpatory evidence. Along with a diverse cross section of the legal community, we look forward to working with members to enact this bill.
In recent years, federal courts have overturned a string of high-profile convictions–including Senator Stevens’ 2008 corruption conviction and Lindsey Manufacturing’s 2011 conviction under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act–after seasoned prosecutors failed to disclose evidence favorable to the defense. Under current Supreme Court precedent, individual and business defendants may never learn that potentially exculpatory evidence exists, and remedies for disclosure failures are also limited. This bill would remedy that injustice.