Analysis: Due Process Protections Act Can Help Shield Defendants Against Prosecutorial Misconduct

Law360 | January.28.2021

In this Law360 article, partners Lily Becker and Amy Walsh Walsh and associates Alison Epperson and Ciarra Carr analyze the implications of the Due Process Protections Act (DPPA), a law enacted late last year that requires all federal district court judges to issue orders to prosecution and defense counsel in every criminal case that confirms the government’s disclosure obligations under Brady v. Maryland and the possible consequences of violating such an order.

Lily, Amy, Alison and Ciarra, members of our white collar and investigations practice, observe that while most prosecutors take these obligations seriously, there have been several instances of ethical lapses that have jeopardized the rights of criminal defendants, including in high-profile cases. The article notes that the issue is personal for Lily, whose father, the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, was victimized by prosecutorial misconduct that served as the impetus for enacting the protections in the DPPA.

Among other things, the DPPA not only reinforces prosecutors’ existing constitutional duty to disclose exculpatory evidence to the accused at the outset of a criminal case, but also gives federal judges, through the court’s contempt powers, the ability to hold the government accountable when they fail to comply. The full article can be read here: New Criminal Rule 5(f) Firms Up Prosecutor Brady Obligations.