California bill would make it a felony for prosecutors to withhold evidence

Nevertheless, Deputy District Attorney Mena Guirguis, president of the Orange County Attorney’s Association, told the Orange County Register last week that “there are already safeguards in place to deal with the things the bill is trying to address. There’s no evidence there’s an explosion of intentional violations.”

That’s not the opinion of Judge Alex Kozinski, the chief judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. “There is an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land,” Kozinski wrote in a much-cited 2013 opinion, referring to instances where prosecutors failed to disclose evidence. “Only judges can put a stop to it.”

Or the findings of a 2010 study on prosecutorial misconduct in California by the Santa Clara University School of Law and Northern California Innocence Project, which said it was a “critical” problem.

“Courts fail to report prosecutorial misconduct (despite having a statutory obligation to do so), prosecutors deny that it occurred, and the California State Bar almost never disciplines it,” the report said.