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What are Brady violations and why do they matter?

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Redemption Law

In the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, it was confirmed that prosecutors are required to disclose specific kinds of evidence to criminal defendants so that those affected by such evidence are given an opportunity to assess its validity and respond to it accordingly. 

As a result of this ruling, when evidence that is considered both material and exculpatory is not disclosed by the state during its prosecution of criminal defendants, a Brady violation has likely taken place. Brady violations discovered during trial can lead to the suppression of the affected material. Violations discovered after an individual has been convicted of criminal wrongdoing can lead a court to overturn the conviction in question. 

Redemption law implications

Most so-called Brady material of any interest to individuals who have already been convicted consists of evidence that may have been used to reduce the severity of their sentence, that may have undermined the credibility of one or more unfavorable witnesses and/or may have allowed members of a jury to make inferences that would not have supported the defendant’s guilt. 

Notably, those who have been convicted of wrongdoing are empowered to seek justice in the wake of a Brady violation regardless of whether the violation occurred intentionally or unintentionally on the part of prosecutors. Many defendants have successfully challenged their convictions based on Brady violations. 

It is the responsibility of affected defendants to prove that any Brady material withheld from them during trial was simultaneously material and favorable to their case. Meaning, there’s a reasonable probability that the outcome of their trial would have been altered in a meaningful way had they been granted access to this material. 

Oftentimes, seeking redemption post-conviction requires knowledge that a mistake has been made on the part of the state. Those who question whether they should have been convicted due to evidentiary issues can potentially benefit from seeking legal guidance.