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Good work capt.
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
NORTH OF THE BORDER ..... (thanks to JAABLOG for the hard work; visit JAABLOG to read the entire letter)
"We have received more Brady notices in twelve weeks than we have in the past thirty years. "
In case you have not already read the letter that Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein sent to State Attorney Michael Satz yesterday, here are a few of the highlights:
"Recent events have caused me great concern about the Broward State
Attorney's Office's compliance with its discovery obligations. As you are
aware, the Public Defender's Office has filed several public records requests with your office. These requests were prompted by a partial Brady disclosure followed by a disclosure of close-out memoranda received from the State Attorney's Office. Those disclosures have led me to the inescapable conclusion that the State Attorney's Office, either through neglect or by design, has been non-compliant with its obligation to disclose favorable evidence to criminal defendants in Broward County."
"On September 6,2009, Assistant State Attorney Sheila Alu forwarded an email to an assistant public defender as a partial Brady Disclosure which identified several law enforcement officers under investigation by your office or some other law enforcement agency. The email stated the following:
"PD office: I am supplying you with a list of officers
where Brady needs to be supplied. I am forwarding this
list to you to expedite this information to your office. As
you all know, I am in this division alone. If you require
more than the list I am forwarding please let me know
and I will do my best to supply it to you."
"In response to this disclosure, the Public Defender's Office filed several
Motions for Disclosure of Exculpatory and Impeachment Information in open cases wherein these officers were listed as witnesses. My chief assistants pulled hundreds of closed cases listing these officers as witnesses and manually reviewed those files looking for Brady notices; however, none were found. We checked with the clerk to ascertain what entry the clerk's office uses to denote Brady disclosures and then checked each fie against Docketrac to ensure that we were not jumping to an unfair conclusion - that in fact the Broward State Attorney's Office systemically failed to comply with its Brady obligation. There were no notations in Docketrac."
"In response to one pretrial motion, an attorney received three "close-out
memos" which prompted us to fie public records requests for the names of all law enforcement officers investigated by the State Attorney's Office since 2006, as well as the ensuing close-out memoranda. Again, we checked for Brady notices with respect to these cases and none were found. After reviewing the close-out memoranda, we determined that the State Attorney's Office had information favorable to the defense exclusively within its possession which was not disclosed. The state's failure to disclose this information to defense counsel resulted in the resolution of numerous cases where my clients did not have essential information that should have been provided to them prior to the conclusion of their cases."
"The close-out memoranda included numerous examples of false reports and false statements by police officers. Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Daniel Zavadil and Lauderhil Police Officer John Lafontant both admitted to forging names and falsifying police reports, yet they were not prosecuted and no Brady notices were filed. Margate Police Officer Joseph Devito was determined to have filed a false police report after hitting a pole with his assigned police car. Four BSO deputiés and the Margate Chief of Police were involved in the investigation, yet no Brady notice was filed. Broward Sheriff Deputy James Bridgeman was referred by Broward County Sheriffs Office's Department of Internal Affairs for filing a false police report regarding his neighbor. He was also investigated by Internal Affairs for insurance fraud. The Special Prosecutions Unit did not prosecute, and no Brady notices were filed with respect to any of this critical information. The State Attorney's Office's decision not to prosecute these matters does not remove the favorable quality of the underlying evidence to the defense, although that apparently has been the modus operandi of the state's decision making process. BSO's Department of Internal Affairs also referred Deputy Robert Aspuru to the State Attorney's Office to investigate whether he stole $100 in confiscated funds. The Special Prosecutions Unit concluded, despite information from an independent witness, that there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction, and failed to file charges against him and failed to provide Brady notices. Hollywood Police Officer Matthew Goodnow was accused of misappropriating funds obtained in undercover drug operations; again Special Prosecutions did not prosecute, despite independent witnesses, and no Brady notices were filed. These are just a few examples of the information exclusively in the possession of the State Attorney's Office that was never turned over to defendants."
"Moreover, it appears that the Broward State Attorney's Office gives great
deference to law enforcement; it would clearly have filed charges if the same allegations were made against a civilian. "
"After hundreds of man hours expended by my chief assistants, I have been forced into reaching two conclusions. First, there was a systemic
nondisclosure of favorable evidence to the defense by the Broward State
"My second conclusion is that there are two systems of justice at work in State Attorney's Office. Although the office espouses a filing standard of
"likelihood of conviction," that standard has two distinct meanings. For
everyday citizens, the "likelihood of conviction" filing standard means nothing more than probable cause. For police officers or other influential or wealthy citizens, "likelihood of conviction" means the State Attorney's Office cannot possibly lose the case, and any doubt about its success at prosecution benefits the potential defendant. The everyday citizen does not get the benefit of the doubt from the Broward State Attorney's Office, nor do they receive that which is statutorily, procedurally and constitutionally guaranteed - favorable information that may be used for impeachment purposes or that may exonerate a person accused of a crime."
"Finally, it is imperative that the Broward State Attorney's Office treat all
persons it considers for criminal prosecution equally. The two systems of
justice in Broward County must end."
Do we have a similar problem here in Miami-Dade County? Has the Miami-Dade Public Defender's Office ever performed such a thorough investigation? Has the criminal defense bar through FACDL or any other group done their homework?
None of these questions should automatically lead one to assume that KFR's office has not been compliant with Brady. But, the questions should be asked!
Our prayers go out to the citizens of Haiti.
Cap Out .....