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Cases Summary Paper

By amcintosh15 Apr 25, 2015 922 Words


Cases Summary
CJUS 350
Angela McIntosh

The three cases that are mentioned and studied are Brady v. Maryland, Giglio v. United States, and United States v. Agurs. These cases are important to the history of how cases are presented and with what evidence is made available to the jury.

With Brady v. Maryland, it was the first time that the Supreme Court recognized that the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause is to ensure and guarantee that the criminal defendants are given all of the information that the prosecution or police have in their possession. With this case, Brady admitted during his murder trial that he had been involved in the crime but that the other individual that was involved in the case was the one that actually did the killing of the victim. After Brady was convicted and sentenced to death, his lawyers then found out that the prosecution had withheld a statement and piece of evidence that Boblit had made to the authorities that admitted that he was the killer. This statement was made to the authorities before the Brady case even went to trial. When this bit of information was noticed Brady contacted the Maryland Court of Appeals. They came to the decision that Brady’s admission that he had participated was enough evidence to establish his guilt, but they ruled that the withheld information from that statement was only relevant to the question of the amount of punishment that should be sentenced. As a result, the state granted Brady only a new sentencing hearing. Brady was not satisfied with this outcome and he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court stating that he felt that the withheld statement should require an entire new trial. They did not grant the new trial. Since then, the use of Brady’s case has been used considerably to prove the importance of prosecution turning over all evidence to the defense.

The case of Giglio v. United States is important to the case history as well. In this case, the Supreme Court held that when the prosecution withholds any exculpatory evidence from the defense that they violate the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause. This is including the fact with even if the individual prosecutors are unaware of any undisclosed information. With this case, the prosecution’s witness during the forgery trial was his alleged coconspirator, Taliento. During the testimony phase of the trial, he had testified that he had not been promised immunity from the prosecution in exchange for agreeing to testify. But the fact was that he had been promised not to be prosecuted if he agreed to testify. This information was discovered by the defense after Giglio was convicted. The Court stated that by the government failing to provide all information violated Giglio’s due process right. The Court stated that it was not important that the actual individual prosecutor who tried Giglio did not personally know of the promise because the prosecution has a duty to disclose all exculpatory information.

The final case that is discussed is the case of United States v. Agurs. This case is in reference as to if the due process clause requires a new trial when the government withholds exculpatory information from a criminal defendant. Agurs was a prostitute and she killed a customer by the last name of Sewell. Agurs attorney did not argue that she acted in self-defense after she was actually attacked by Sewell with a knife. After she was convicted her lawyer found out that Sewell had been convicted of assault and illegally carrying weapons. She in turn moved for a new trial stating that the prosecutor’s failure to provide Sewell’s record violated Brady. The trial judge denied the request but an appellate court ordered a new trial. The Supreme Court however reinstated her conviction. The Court rejected the prosecution’s argument that it is required to provide or disclose information only when it is specifically requested. The fact is that the prosecution is required to provide all exculpatory information even without a request from the defense. The Court however ruled that the failure to disclose this information to defense does not change the outcome of the case. This was due to the fact that the jury was aware that Sewell was carrying a knife, therefore the Court felt that the disclosure of his record would not have changed the outcome. This case is important because it shows the importance for the prosecution to disclose all exculpatory evidence without the request. It is also important because it is used as a standard when this type of information is withheld.

All three of these cases are crucial to the history of how cases are handled and what information should or should not be provided to the defense, jury, and the defendant. It is so imperative to make sure that everything is out in the open with the cases not just for the prosecution’s standpoint but for the defense as well. The prosecution has a duty not just to the public but also to the defense to ensure that the trial is handled as fairly as possible. If it is not, then justice has not been served.

References:
Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963):
http://uscivilliberties.org/cases/3237-brady-v-maryland-373-us-83-1963.html Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972):
http://uscivilliberties.org/cases/3858-giglio-v-united-states-405-us-150-1972.html United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97 (1976):
http://uscivilliberties.org/cases/4620-united-states-v-agurs-427-us-97-1976.html

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