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What is the Brady Doctrine, and why is it key in criminal defense?

How concerned are prosecutors who have engaged in professional misconduct that they will be legally called to task for their acts or purposeful omissions?

Reportedly, not very stressed over the prospect at all.

Because, as ample evidence points out, the odds of their being spotlighted and subjected to sanctions are low, indeed.

In California, for example, the justice advocacy group Innocence Project spotlights data revealing that only about 1 percent of many hundreds of bad-faith prosecutors are publicly disciplined by state bar officials. Similar findings abound across the country.

A recent in-depth media report highlights the so-called Brady Doctrine, which is a time-honored legal principle existing to ensure fundamental fairness in criminal law matters.

In a nutshell, as that report notes, Brady mandates the prosecution's "ironclad duty to disclose, before trial, evidence that could undercut its case." The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that anything less than absolute compliance with that requirement "does not comport with standards of justice."

Notwithstanding the rule, though, defense attorneys routinely note its violation in cases where government lawyers, police officers, lab technicians and others intentionally withhold evidence that they know harms their case and favors the defense.

Certainly a major contributor to such injustice is the above-cited disinclination of many prosecutors to get overly concerned with potential blowback linked to wrongdoing.

The potential for Brady violations is real in any given case, and a primary reason why committed and properly cynical defense attorneys routinely subject every element of alleged incriminating evidence to withering scrutiny.

Criminal suspects have a constitutionally stated right to fairness when their personal rights and freedom are at stake. A seasoned legal advocate will work with unchecked diligence on their behalf.

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