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Exculpatory Evidence Getting It and Using It
By Michael A. Collora, William A. Haddad
Recent incidents regarding the failure of prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence resulted in the dismissal of a U.S. senator’s conviction (United States v. Stevens),1 a remand by the Supreme Court in a death penalty case for a potential resentencing (Cone v. Bell),2 voluntary dismissal of a gun charge carrying a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence (United States v. Jones),3 and, but for an acquittal, the potential dismissal of a long-running federal prosecution in Montana for environmental prosecution (United States v. W.R. Grace).4 These cases present a common theme — the prosecutors failed to turn over exculpatory evidence primarily related to impeachment, or in the sentencing case, militating circumstances involving mental outlook and drug use just prior to the crime. In all four cases, prosecutors drew the ire of the presiding trial judge for their lack of attention to the constitutional rights of defendants. In the Stevens case, the judge found the government’s discovery vio
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