Thursday, March 03, 2005

3rd Cir rejects Brady claim

In US v. Leonardo A. Pelullo, No. 02-2710 (3d Cir. 2/25/05), the Circuit reversed a district court's finding of a Brady violation concerning two sets of exculpatory documents. In a very fact intensive opinion, the Court ruled that because the first set of exculpatory material consisted of the defendant's own documents, and because defendant had access to them, the failure of the government to turn them over to the defense did not constitute "suppression" of the exculpatory material for purposes of the rule of Brady v. Maryland.

The Court ruled that the second set of exculpatory material consisted of documents in the possession of a government agency that was not part of the "prosecution team," and that therefore under Brady the government's failure to turn these document over to the defense also did not constitute "suppression." As the Court explained, "[T]he prosecution is only obligated to disclose information known to others acting on the government's behalf in a particular case."

Addressing a separate habeas challenge to the jury instructions, the Court ruled that defendant had defaulted this claim and had not established "cause" for his failure to raise it at the trial or on the direct appeal.

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