Does Your Criminal Case Get Dismissed When The Prosecution Deliberately Withholds Exculpatory Evidence ?
What happens when your defense team learns during trial that the Prosecutor deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence that they have a legal duty to disclose? Under current law, the judge might grant a brief continuance to allow the defense to look into the evidence, can hold the prosecutor in contempt, and can also mention the lapse to the jury.
AB 885, which was cleared by both houses, would have changed the current law to require the judge to tell the jurors the evidence was intentionally withheld and that they can consider the non-disclosure as a possible sign that the prosecution was unable to prove its case. This bill was introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Fransisco stating “We need this bill to stop the few prosecutors whose zeal for convictions lead them to cut corners of Justice.”
This Bill was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown stating “Prosecutorial misconduct should never be tolerated” But he said AB 855 “would be a sharp departure from the current practice… Under current law, judges have a array of remedies at their disposal if a discovery violation comes to light during trial.”