What are Brady obligations?
In Brady, the United States Supreme Court ruled that information in the possession of the state which exculpates an accused or mitigates guilt must be disclosed to the defense.
In Giglio, the United States Supreme Court ruled that information in the possession of the state which shows that a witness may be untruthful or biased must be disclosed to the defense.
This obligation to disclose extends only to the county attorney's office and law enforcement. Furthermore, the requirement to disclose this information extends only to information actually in the possession of the county attorney's office or law enforcement. In other words, there is no legal obligation for county attorney offices to proactively search for this information.
How does the Hennepin County Attorney's Office view its Brady and Giglio obligations?
The Hennepin County Attorney's Office (HCAO) is committed to just, fair, and equitable prosecution and has been a leader in developing processes to comply with all ethical obligations, including Brady/Giglio.
Training and Education
All new lawyers in the HCAO receive specific training in their ethical obligations, including the disclosure of Brady/Giglio information. Continued training on ethical issues is conducted for all attorneys at least annually.
The HCAO maintains a team of attorneys who review cases, consult with trial lawyers and train on ethical prosecution standards, including Brady/Giglio issues. In addition to in-house training, the HCAO pays for additional training through the Minnesota County Attorneys Association, Minnesota State Bar Association, and the National District Attorneys Association.
Police departments in Hennepin County are required to notify the HCAO when they have an officer with a possible Brady/Giglio issue. If that officer is subpoenaed for a trial, that information from the department is then reviewed. If the information is even potentially exculpatory, mitigating, or relevant to the witness’s credibility, the information is disclosed to the defense. Because ethical requirements and HCAO policy favors broad disclosure of information, not all disclosed information will be relevant at trial. HCAO lawyers routinely litigate the admissibility of disclosed Brady/Giglio information consistent with the Rules of Evidence and Minnesota law.
Because the HCAO conducts its Brady/Giglio review on a case-by-case basis, the HCAO does not maintain a “Brady List” which automatically excludes any specific officer. Each case is reviewed individually to ensure compliance with Brady/Giglio obligations.