Proposed Law Would Allow District Attorneys To Withhold Evidence

Posted by Christopher Shumate | Dec 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

The U.S. Supreme Court long ago ruled prosecutors must produce evidence that potentially exonerates a Defendant; i.e. anything that is potentially beneficial to the Defendant's case. In 2004, the North Carolina Court clarified that District Attorneys must share everything in the file in all felony cases.

However, the North Carolina legislature has proposed a bill that would hold prosecutors responsible for giving defense counsel only what detectives have provided the prosecution; not what investigators might have withheld. This proposed amendment to the law is a substantial distinction. As Mark Rabil (co-director of the Innocence and Justice Clinic at Wake Forest University School of Law) notes, it provides District Attorneys a way to withhold evidence without legal / ethical responsibility. "The measure gives prosecutors a way to say, well, it was not in our file so we cannot be held responsible for turning this over." It's important to note that defense attorneys are not able to demand the production of law enforcement documentation, so the production from District Attorneys is crucial to the legal process.

The practical implications of this issue are obvious. Ask Greg Taylor or Darryl Hunt whether this issue is important; they each spent over 17 years in prison on fraudulent murder convictions. The Iredell County murder trial of Al Bellamy is also currently in jeopardy because the prosecution produced approximately 1,700 pages of discovery three weeks into the trial.

About the Author

Christopher Shumate

Mr. Chris Shumate is a native of Gastonia, North Carolina, and worked various jobs while pursuing his undergraduate and Juris Doctor education, including several heavy manual labor and skilled trade positions. In his practice, Mr. Shumate often encounters circumstances where these prior experiences are helpful in representing you. Upon graduating law school from the University of South Carolina, Mr. Shumate joined one of the Carolinas' larger defense firms, where he represented a diverse set of employers and insurance companies in civil cases and workers' compensation claims across the Carolinas. Chris utilized this experience to obtain a working knowledge of the insurance industry, and build personal contacts used today in representing you. Mr. Shumate ultimately decided he wanted to focus his law practice on assisting those who have been injured, and doing so with the focus on a personal relationship that is uncommon in the bigger firms. Mr. Shumate's also has a passion for assisting those facing the challenges of the criminal legal system. By representing individuals in a variety of criminal and traffic matters, Mr. Shumate works to achieve the best possible result for each client regardless of the charges levied by the prosecution. Chris has tirelessly pursued his mission of helping people from all walks of life throughout the Carolinas with a variety of legal matters. If you are interested in learning more about Chris Shumate and The Shumate Law Offices, please contact us at 704.371.5059. We look forward to assisting you to achieve a positive result in your legal concern. Education J.D., University of South Carolina B.S., University of South Carolina Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice N.C. State BarS.C. State BarU.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina Professional & Bar Association Memberships N.C. Bar Association S.C. Bar Association Mecklenburg County Bar N.C. Academy Of Trial Lawyers American Association For Justice


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