The Ethical Obligations of a Prosecutor

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According to Rule 3.8 of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct, a prosecutor in a criminal case shall not: “[i]ntentionally fail to disclose to the defense, upon request and at a time when use by the defense is… Read More

A “Not Guilty” Letdown

Jefferson and Washington monuments

I walk my client out to the street afterward (“You mean I don’t have to sign anything, I can just go?”), disappointed that, since it is late in the day, there is no one still at the courthouse… Read More

Goodbye to Dana Tapper and the PDS Summer Interns

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Summer is over, and the Public Defender Service (PDS) interns assigned to the Youth Services Center are gone. Although I never met any of them in person (they were there during the day, and I visit clients evenings… Read More

Enforcing Brady v. Maryland: Toward An “Open File” Discovery Requirement

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A constitutional right without any way of enforcing that constitutional right is hardly any right at all.  That’s a pretty accurate description of the government’s obligations under the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution and Brady v…. Read More

Leaving the Drama — and Surprises — for Closing Argument

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Your client is cranky with you for the lousy job he thinks you are doing on cross-examination. There are no dramatic “gotcha” moments like you see on T.V. Instead, every time you elicit what appears to be an… Read More

In Re D.M.: When Can You Dismiss a Juvenile Case for “Social Reasons”?

The problem with using a canon of statutory interpretation to justify a legal opinion is that you can usually find some other canon to arrive at the exact opposite conclusion. For example, to support its recent holding in… Read More

Why I Like D.C.’s Public Defender Service

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When I worked as a public defender in Philadelphia, we had what I can only describe as an uneasy relationship with the private criminal defense bar.  Looking at it from the standpoint of the PD’s office, there were… Read More

Still Brady v. Maryland

The prosecutor can hardly blame me for being skeptical.  I ask her about one of the counts that was dropped from the complaint, and she tells me it was because the complaining witness said a few things to… Read More

Open Letter to an Honest Cop

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Dear Officer Parrish: A couple of weeks ago, I cross-examined one of your colleagues from the 3rd District.  The issue at that hearing was similar to the one under consideration today:  Whether or not the arresting officer had… Read More

In Re W.R.: Warrantless Search During a Custodial Arrest

Jejomar Untalan has been busy.  I reported last week on his successful appeal in In re S.B.  This week the D.C. Court of Appeals issued yet another decision bearing Untalan’s name as the appellant’s attorney:  In re W.R.,… Read More