Brief filed: 01/10/2018
Alvarez v. City of Brownsville
5th Circuit Court of Appeals; Case No. 16-40772
Panel decision at 860 F.3d 799 (5th Cir. June 26, 2017
Today’s justice system is a system of pleas, so disclosure of exculpatory information in plea bargaining is imperative. Plea bargaining dominates modern criminal justice. Empirical data shows that many innocent defendants plead guilty, often to avoid the risks trial poses. Due process requires that the government disclose exculpatory information before a defendant pleads guilty. The principles underlying Brady apply in all criminal cases, not just the minority of cases that end in a trial. Ruiz does not foreclose defendants’ constitutional right to exculpatory information during plea bargaining. Numerous other courts recognize the right to exculpatory information before pleading guilty. The right to exculpatory information in plea bargaining is a logical corollary of the right to effective assistance of counsel. The government’s counterarguments are unpersuasive. The Court should correct its course on this critical constitutional right.
Jason N. Jordan, Benjamin L. Mesches, Christopher R. Knight, and Ryan Gardner, Haynes and Boone, LLP, Dallas, TX; David Gerger, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, Houston, TX.