Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer John M. Castellano reveals disturbing truth about our criminal justice system

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“Brady” evidence; withholding by some prosecutors:

There is a cardinal rule unfortunately violated almost daily by too many prosecutors across the nation who fail to comply with the highest law of the land, the Unites State Supreme Court decision in the famous case of Brady v. Maryland.

Prosecutors are required by law to turn over to the defense lawyer *ANYTHING that arguably “tends to negate the guilt of the defendant,” ANYTHING “exculpatory” or tending to exonerate the defendant. Examples of this “Brady” evidence may be as simple as just a statement made by a prosecution witness, or a document or some type of forensic evidence that points to the possible guilt of a different person and NOT the targeted defendant — and it is so elementary and widely understood by ALL criminal court judges and prosecutors and defense lawyers today, that they all simply refer to it as “Brady” evidence — and the punishment for violating the “Brady” rule (“withholding “Brady evidence”) is clear: dismissal of the case as a sanction against the prosecutor and the “State.”

You would think that the severity of this sanction would be enough to cause all prosecutors to comply with “Brady” and turn over ALL such Brady evidence to the defense lawyer, but it’s not; too many prosecutors simply want to win in trial and many will routinely withhold this type of “evidence,” *not because they want to convict an innocent person or the wrong person — NO; instead, they, in their zeal and spirit of righteousness, believe that the evidence is not reliable or will tend to mislead the jury, or is not worthy of belief, and they feel that their chances of convicting the “right” person (ie, the defendant they are prosecuting now, the one who they believe in their myopic perspective is truly guilty) would be minimized. Rather than comply with the law of the land, “Brady,” a la Brady v Maryland, too many prosecutors will keep this “evidence” to themselves.

Aside from those prosecutors who seemingly personify integrity (and thankfully there are some who go out of their way to comply with “Brady”) there are apparently too many who will only “disclose” Brady evidence to the defense when they’re concerned that the defense lawyer will find out about it anyway, ie, when the witness who says something favorable for a defendant, might have said this same statement to a friend of the defendant, or to others who might have made the statement too public to get away with concealing it, or if someone else connected with the case heard of this exculpatory remark –and only when the prosecutor believes that the Brady evidence may be discovered in any event, will the prosecutor comply with the highest law of the land and “disclose” this “evidence” to the defense. This is not unlike a man or woman who withholds the truth of things that will hurt them in the eyes of their spouse or mate, unless they think their wife or husband will find out anyway, and then they’ll disclose the truth of what they were hoping their spouse would never know about …

If you have a strong opinion against (or agreeing with) what I have stated as this sad state of affairs in our criminal justice system today, feel free to send us your comments. Remember, we thankfully have many prosecutors of integrity who comply with Brady, but let’s agree that we need for ALL prosecutors to follow he law. I am,

Hopeful of change,

John M. Castellano



About the Author:

John M. Castellano is a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney who has helped thousands of clients throughout Florida. While building a reputation as a premiere Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney, Mr. Castellano has worked tirelessly to develop strategies to best protect the rights of those arrested for DUI in Broward, Dade and West Palm. However, Mr. Castellano is not just a drunk driving lawyer. He has been a successful domestic violence attorney, drug trafficking attorney, as well as all other Felony and Misdemeanor cases.

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