« ForrigeFortsett »
Opinion of MARSHALL, J.
Thompson and Jones, it denied him due process. The Court answers this by saying that the statements were not material. It is evident from the foregoing that the statements were not merely material to the defense, they were absolutely critical. I find myself in complete agreement with Justice Schaeffer's dissent in the Illinois Supreme Court:
“The defendant's conviction rests entirely upon identification testimony. The facts developed at the post-conviction hearing seriously impeached, if indeed they did not destroy, Sanders's trial testimony. Had those facts, and the identifications of 'Slick’ Watts by Thompson and Jones, been available at the trial, the jury may well have been unwilling to act upon the identifications of Patricia Hill and Henley Powell. Far more is involved in this case, in my opinion, than the following up of useless leads and discussions with immaterial witnesses. Certainly if Sanders's identification was material, the ... testimony of the other witnesses which destroyed that identification (was] also material. Consequently, I believe that the State's nondisclosure denied the defendant the fundamental fairness guaranteed by the constitution. ..." 42 Ill. 2d, at 88–89, 246 N. E. 2d, at 308.4
4 Chief Judge Friendly has noted that when the prosecution fails to disclose evidence whose high value to the defense could not have escaped the prosecutor's attention, "almost by definition the evidence is highly material.” United States v. Keogh, 391 F. 2d 138, 147 (CA2 1968). See also United States ex rel. Meers v. Wilkins, 326 F. 2d 135 (CA2 1964).
The materiality of the undisclosed evidence in this case cannot be seriously doubted. The State based its case primarily on the eyewitness identifications of petitioner by a witness and patron in the bar. Testimony of this sort based on in-court identification is often viewed with suspicion by juries. See McGowan, Constitutional In
Opinion of MARSHALL, J.
Petitioner also urges that the failure of the prosecution to disclose the information concerning where the eyewitness Powell was sitting when he allegedly saw petitioner is another instance of suppression of evidence in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Had this been the prosecution's only error, I would join the Court in finding the evidence to be immaterial. But if this evidence is considered together with other evidence that was suppressed, it must be apparent that the failure of the prosecution to disclose it contributed to the denial of due process.
Even if material exculpatory evidence was not made available to petitioner, the State argues that because petitioner did not demand to see the evidence, he cannot now complain about nondisclosure. This argument is disingenuous at best.
Prior to trial, petitioner moved for discovery of all statements given to the prosecutor or the police by any witness possessing information relevant to the case. Abs. 5. In explaining why such a broad motion was made, petitioner's counsel stated that, “We want to circumvent the possibility that a witness gets on the stand and says, 'Yes, I made a written statement,' and then the State's Attorney says, 'But no, we don't have it in our possession,' or they say, 'It's in the possession of Orlando Wilson [Superintendent of Police, Chicago, Ill.],' or 'The Chief of Police of Lansing.'” Abs. 8. In
terpretation and Criminal Identification, 12 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 235, 241–242 (1970). That testimony in this case was subject to serious question: indeed, petitioner premised his defense in large part on a theory of misidentification. Coupled with the contradictory statement made by O'Brien (see supra, at 803), the evidence showing that one of the witnesses may not have had an adequate opportunity to observe and that petitioner may have been confused with another person named “Slick” would certainly have been material to the defense's presentation of its case.
Opinion of MARSHALL, J.
response to the motion, the prosecutor guaranteed defense counsel and the court that he would supply defense counsel with statements made either to the police or to the State's Attorney by witnesses who were called to testify at trial. Ibid. Based on this representation, the motion for discovery was denied. Never was there any implication by the prosecutor that his guarantee was in any way dependent upon petitioner's making repeated and specific requests for such statements after each witness testified at trial. The prosecutor's guarantee certainly covered Sanders' statement. As for the statements of the bartender and owner of the Ponderosa Tavern and the statement and diagram of Charles Mayer, petitioner clearly demanded to see these things before trial. The prosecution took the position that it was bound to reveal only the statements of witnesses who testified. Hence, it is hard to imagine what sort of further demand petitioner might have made. Moreover, the very fact that petitioner made his motion for extensive discovery placed the prosecution on notice that the defense wished to see all statements by any witness that might be exculpatory. The motion served “the valuable office of flagging the importance of the evidence for the defense and thus impos[ing] on the prosecutor a duty to make a careful check of his files.” United States v. Keogh, 391 F. 2d 138, 147 (CA2 1968).
In my view, both Brady v. Maryland, 373 U. S. 83 (1963), and Napue v. Illinois, 360 U. S. 264 (1959), require that the conviction in this case be reversed. Napue establishes that the Fourteenth Amendment is violated "when the State, although not soliciting false evidence, allows it to go uncorrected.” Id., at 269. And Brady holds that suppression of material evidence requires a new trial "irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.” Supra, at 87. There can be no doubt that there was suppression of evidence by the State and
Opinion of MARSHALL, J.
that the evidence that the State relied on was "false" in the sense that it was incomplete and misleading.
Both before and during the trial the prosecutor met with Sanders and went over the statement that he had given the police five days after the murder. Abs. 301, 315. Thus, it is apparent that the prosecutor not only knew of the statement, but was actively using it to prepare his case. There was also testimony at the postconviction hearing from the prosecution that it had discussed the location where Powell was sitting when he allegedly saw the murder. While the prosecutor could not remember whether or not he actually had Mayer's statement and diagram in his possession, he had some recollection that before trial he was informed of exactly where everyone at Powell's table was sitting. Abs. 323. No attempt was ever made at trial to communicate this information to the defense.
Moreover, seated at the prosecutor's table throughout the trial was Police Lieutenant Turbin, who had investigated the case and who was assisting the prosecution. At the post-conviction hearing, he testified that throughout the trial he was not only aware of Sanders' statement and Mayer's diagram, but also that he had them in his file. He made no attempt to communicate his information to the prosecutor or to remind him about the evidence.
When the State possesses information that might well exonerate a defendant in a criminal case, it has an affirmative duty to disclose that information. While frivolous information and useless leads can be ignored, if evidence is clearly relevant and helpful to the defense, it must be disclosed.
Obviously some burden is placed on the shoulders of the prosecutor when he is required to be responsible for those persons who are directly assisting him in bringing an accused to justice. But this burden is the essence Opinion of MARSHALL, J.
of due process of law. It is the State that tries a man, and it is the State that must insure that the trial is fair. “A citizen has the right to expect fair dealing from his government, see Vitarelli v. Seaton, 359 U. S. 535, and this entails ... treating the government as a unit rather than as an amalgam of separate entities.” S&E Contractors, Inc. v. United States, 406 U. S. 1, 10 (1972). "The prosecutor's office is an entity and as such it is the spokesman for the Government.” Giglio v. United States, 405 U. S. 150, 154 (1972). See also Santobello v. New York, 404 U. S. 257, 262 (1971); Barker v. Wingo, 407 U. S. 514 (1972).
My reading of the case leads me to conclude that the prosecutor knew that evidence existed that might help the defense, that the defense had asked to see it, and that it was never disclosed. It makes no difference whatever whether the evidence that was suppressed was found in the file of a police officer who directly aided the prosecution or in the file of the prosecutor himself. When the prosecutor consciously uses police officers as part of the prosecutorial team, those officers may not conceal evidence that the prosecutor himself would have a duty to disclose. It would be unconscionable to permit a prosecutor to adduce evidence demonstrating guilt without also requiring that he bear the responsibility of producing all known and relevant evidence tending to show innocence.
5 In the recent decision in Kastigar v. United States, 406 U. S. 441 (1972), holding that use immunity was co-extensive with the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, the Court noted that prosecutors may be responsible for actions of police officers enlisted to aid a prosecution.