In 2023, two significant cases were argued before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that will significantly impact prosecutors’ obligations to disclose so-called Brady evidence, specifically obligations relating to alleged police misconduct. Both cases come out of Hampden County and involve District Attorneys’ alleged failures to produce/inquire about police misconduct evidence. The McFarlane appeals court case – decided in February 2023 – has created as many questions as answers. Among the issues are the extent of a DA’s duty to inquire of the police, whether civil lawsuit allegations must be disclosed, the impact of POST’s public database on this issue, and the responsiblity of officers to respond to inquiries.
As we know, following the earlier stages of these recent cases, many DA’s offices issued new policies and questionairres impacting police witnesses. Now that the appeals have been argued to the SJC (in September), we can expect significant guidance from the Court in the near future.
If you would like to watch the oral arguments before the Court, click the links below. They’re each around an hour.