ATTORNEY GENERAL ISSUES INTERNAL MEMO PERTAINING TO DISCOVERY GUIDELINES TO BE FOLLOWED BY PROSECUTORS

Filed under: Criminal Law, News Tags: by Steven F. Fairlie @ January 6, 2010

TWO DAYS AGO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL ISSUED TWO INTERNAL MEMOS TO FEDERAL PROSECUTORS OUTLINING PROCEDURES TO BE FOLLOWED IN THE GATHERING AND DISTRIBUTION OF DISCOVERY. THE MEMOS ARE FULL OF INFORMATION THAT CAN BE USEFUL TO CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS SUCH AS THE FOLLOWING PASSAGE:

Justice Sutherland’s observations regarding the role of a prosecutor are as true today as they were when he wrote them over 70 years ago. He wrote:

The United States Attorney is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor–indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one.

Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78, 88 (1935).

THE FIRST MEMO DISCUSSES THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S PHILOSOPHY PERTAINING TO DISCOVERY AND THE SECOND CONTAINS DETAILED INFORMATION PERTAINING TO THE NEW POLICIES. THEY CAN BE READ IN THEIR ENTIRETY AT THE FOLLOWING LINKS:
http://www.justice.gov/dag/dag-memo.html
http://www.justice.gov/dag/discovery-guidance.html

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