People v Garcia, 2007 NY Slip Op 10467 is an unusual case. Not because of the ADAs actions--flagrantly violating Brady--but because the violation was actually discovered and the First Department came down so hard on the ADA for failing to provide Brady material. Of particular note is the Court's harsh language when chastising the ADA's actions.
The decision and background of the case are explained in this New York Lawyer article:
The Appellate Division, First Department, in People v. Garcia, 1085, 1086, last week ruled unanimously that Pedro Garcia and his wife, Betzayda Melendez, must be given a new trial on charges that they kidnapped a 13-year-old girl and forced her to board a flight to Puerto Rico...
The First Department agreed with Justice Barrett that "the prosecution wilfully suppressed evidence, in their possession, from flight attendants that contradicted the complainant's claim that she created a disturbance and vociferously protested to the attendants that she was being taken against her will by defendant Melendez on a flight to Puerto Rico."
What I find to be so interesting about this case is the section of the decision where the Court provided an excellent summary of the People's obligations under Brady and then offered up a verbal smack down of the ADA's actions and their subsequent lame attempt to justify the Brady violation on appeal:
(I)t is irrelevant whether defense counsel could have discovered or should have known that the flight attendants would contradict the complainant's account of the flight. The prosecution's constitutional and ethical obligations are independent obligations. The only relevant point here is that the prosecution did know of and did not disclose this significant impeachment evidence.
It is disquieting that the People's brief refers to this failure to disclose as "an arguable lapse of preferred practice." This was a flagrant violation by the prosecutor of his constitutional and ethical obligations...
--Nicole Black is a lawyer and is of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach, one of the largest and most experienced DWI defense firms in New York State. She also co-authors the Thomson-West book Criminal Law in New York and writes a weekly column, "Legal Currents", for The Daily Record.