SLABBED exclusiveEastland to Holder – re: Minor and prosecutor’s duty to refrain from improper methods designed to produce wrongful conviction

June 24, 2009

Honorable Eric Holder
Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Holder:

I am writing this letter to request that you implement an immediate full review of Paul Minor’s case and whether the Department of Justice complied with Mr. Minor’s Brady requests for government disclosure of all exculpatory or impeaching material in the United States’ possession, custody or control, the existence of which was known or by exercise of due diligence could have become known to the government before the 2005 and 2007 trials of Paul Minor. See Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963); United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97 (1976); Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972); see also, Exhibits 1 and 2 attached Brady progeny requests for Paul Minor’s 2005 and 2007 trials.

As you are aware, the government prosecution not only has an obligation, but an absolute duty under Brady to disclose all exculpatory or favorable information prior to trial. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has held that the Brady duty of the government to disclose all evidence favorable to the defendants or discrediting to its own case is fundamental to the Constitution’s due process requirement. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97; United States v. Beasley, 576 F.2d 626, 630 (5th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 440 U.S. 947 (1979) (Brady rule is not merely a discovery rule, but a rule of fairness and a minimum constitutional standard under the Due Process clause with respect to pretrial discovery); Kyles v. Whitley, 115 S.Ct. 1555 (1995) (obligation belongs to the individual prosecutor to learn of favorable evidence to the accused); see also, Mooney v. Holohan, 294 U.S. 103 (1935); Pyle v. Kansas, 317 U.S. 213 (1942). This requirement also encompasses information which bears upon the credibility of its witnesses as well as matters more directly material to guilt or innocence. Giglio, 405 U.S. 150; Napue v. Illinois, 360 U.S. 264 (1959); United States v. Joseph, 533 F.2d 282 (5th Cir. 1976); United States v. Dillard, 419 F.Supp. 1000 (N.D.nt. 1976); see generally, Williams v. Dutton, 400F.2d 797 (5th Cir. 1968), cert. denied, 393 U.S. 1105 (1969).

In thoughtfully considering this request for a full review of Mr. Minor’s prosecution and whether the government complied with its pre-trial Brady duty, it bears remembering that the functions of the Brady duty as well as the government prosecutor are both grounded in fairly adhering to the rights of the accused in order to protect the innocent and to assure the prosecutor’s methods do not produce a wrongful conviction.

Justice William O. Douglas long ago recognized:
The function of the prosecutor under the federal constitution is not to tack
as many skins of victims as possible to the wall. His function is to
vindicate the right of the people as expressed in the laws and give those
accused a fair trial. i

Similarly, the Supreme Court long ago recognized the function of the United States Attorney as follows:

The United States Attorney is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy. but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case. but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense a servant of the law. the two-fold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty t0 refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one. ii

There are many compelling reasons for you to implement an immediate full review of Mr. Minor’s prosecution and whether the Bush Justice Department complied with its duty to fairly disclose all exculpatory or favorable information to Mr. Minor. Indeed, under the circumstances of this case, it is most unlikely that Mr. Minor was fairly and justly prosecuted under the law and most unlikely that Mr. Minor’s Brady requests for information beneficial to his defense were taken seriously and complied with: