The defendant was charged with passing forged money orders. At his trial, the key government’s key witness was named Taliento. Under cross-examination, Taliento denied that any promises had been made to him in exchange for his testimony, and the government attorney stated in his summation to the jury that Taliento “received no promises that he would not be indicted.” The defendant was convicted. While his appeal was pending, the defendant discovered new evidence indicating the government had failed to disclose an alleged promise made to Taliento that he would not be prosecuted if he testified for the government.
Whether the government’s failure to disclose evidence that could affect the credibility of its witness a violation of the Due Process Clause?
Yes. The government must disclose evidence that could affect the credibility of its witness.
In Brady v. Maryland, the Supreme Court held the suppression of material evidence justifies a new trial notwithstanding the good or bad faith of the prosecution. When the reliability of a given witness may determine guilt or innocence, nondisclosure of evidence affecting credibility falls within this general rule. The Court does not, however, automatically require a new trial whenever a combing of the prosecutors’ files after the trial has disclosed evidence possibly useful to the defense, but not likely to have changed the verdict. A finding of materiality of the evidence is required under Brady. A new trial is required if the false testimony could in any reasonable likelihood have affected the judgment of the jury.
405 U.S. 150; 92 S. Ct. 763 (1972)