Murkowski: Justice Hidden Remains Justice Denied

Senator Responds to Study Showing Continued Failure to Disclose Evidence to Defense

Senator Lisa Murkowski today offered the following observation upon the release of the “Material Indifference” study conducted by the University of Santa Clara Law School and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers showing that legal mischief – like that seen in the Ted Stevens trial – continues to be a reality in courtrooms nationwide, saying:

“Though Attorney General Eric Holder threw Ted Stevens’ guilty verdict out of court because Department of Justice attorneys played ‘hide the football’ with evidence that could have helped his case, he only dealt with the symptom and allowed the problem to linger among the legal ranks.  I hope that his successor will truly commit to uprooting this issue that is undercutting Americans’ faith in the judicial branch, and plan to re-introduce my bipartisan Fairness in Disclosure of Evidence Act in the next Congressional session.  We can no longer allow the government to have a finger on the scales of justice, tipping it in its favor.”

NACDL’s description of the report released today reads:

In courtrooms across the nation, accused persons are convicted without ever having seen information that was favorable to their defense. The frequency with which this occurs and the role it plays in wrongful convictions prompted NACDL and the VERITAS Initiative to undertake an unprecedented study of Brady claims litigated in federal courts over a five-year period … The results revealed a troubling answer—the judiciary is impeding fair disclosure in criminal cases and, in doing so, encouraging prosecutors to disclose as little favorable information as possible.

Tomorrow, November 18th, 2014, would have been Senator Ted Stevens 91st birthday.