Just a few weeks ago, a state judge made a startling claim against New Orleans prosecutors. She accused the prosecutor's office of hiding evidence-grand jury testimonies-from the defense in a case. Such an accusation has serious implications. Could this behavior change the way criminal prosecutions are handled in the future?
Is Hiding Evidence a Common Practice for New Orleans Prosecutors?
After striking a deal to aid prosecutors, three co-defendants were taken before the grand jury to testify against other co-defendants in their case. Their testimony was then kept from defense attorneys using grand jury secrecy rules. The judge overseeing the case didn't appreciate those actions.
She ordered the prosecution to release those testimonies to the defense, but The Louisiana Supreme Court would later rule that she had overstepped. The Supreme Court ordered the state judge to review the testimony first to see what information should be released to the defense first. The judge has since reviewed the evidence and may require certain parts of the testimonies to be released to defense attorneys.
Releasing critical evidence as soon as it's discovered to the defense is considered “best practices” in criminal cases. However, here in Louisiana, prosecutors are not required to immediately reveal important evidence to the defense. Though many judges encourage both sides in a case to reveal important evidence as soon as it's discovered, prosecutors don't have to release such evidence until just before trial. Sometimes prosecutors take advantage of this, and that can hinder a person's criminal defense.
Understanding tricks like this is a part of an experienced criminal defense attorney's job. If he or she fails to recognize when a prosecutor is trying to conceal evidence, it could spell disaster for the defense. To learn more about other ways prosecutors ty to get the edge on defense attorneys, keep following our blog.
Brought to you by the New Orleans criminal defense lawyers at Martzell, Bickford & Centola—leveling the playing field for your criminal defense.