The rule-making body for federal courts will take up U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan’s proposal for expanding the’ Brady rights of defendants. ”We will indeed be considering the proposal; it is on the agenda for our October meeting in Seattle,” Richard C. Tallman, chair of the criminal rules advisory committee to the Judicial Conference of the United States, wrote to Sullivan last Thursday.
Read Tallman’s letter here.
The letter from Tallman was disclosed Tuesday evening, when it was filed in the case of ex-Sen. Ted Stevens. Sullivan in April dismissed the government’s public corruption case against the Alaska Republican and voided his October 2008 conviction, after an internal Justice Department review discovered that government material undercutting a star witness’s testimony hadn’t been given to the defense. Sullivan also ordered a criminal contempt probe of the DOJ prosecutors involved in the case, including Public Integrity Section chief William Welch II.
On April 28, Sullivan wrote to the Judicial Conference proposing an amendment of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 to require the government to hand over all exculpatory material to the defense. The issue is now being reviewd by the “highest levels of the executive branch,” Tallman’s letter said.
Tallman also noted that DOJ Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer co-chairs an internal DOJ working group on Brady issues, and is also an ex-officio member of his criminal rules committee, which reports to the Judicial Conference’s committee on rules of practice and procedure. Tallman said he had “received assurances that the Department will report back to the committee with its position on the issue by our October meeting.”
Tallman is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.