How many articles, posts, opinions, condemnations have been written about prosecutors concealing Brady material? A thousand? Ten thousand? A million? Certainly a lot. And of them, this may be the most worthless, garbage article I’ve ever seen. Not necessarily because there haven’t been other crappy posts and articles, but because this one is in the New York Times.
Even worse, this one is written by Jim Dwyer, who has long been one of the more knowledgeable writers on legal issues. That he had space in the Times and squandered it on an article that had all the depth that could be mustered by a high school sophomore is a crying shame.
The article begins with a few details about a Brooklyn murder conviction reviewed and dismissed by District Attorney Ken Thompson’s office.
In 2010, to convict a man named Wayne Martin of killing two people during a stickup of a Brooklyn tire repair shop, someone in law enforcement went to the trouble of blanking out a paragraph in a homicide report.
The erased portion said that a witness had identified someone other than Mr. Martin as the gunman.
In still another report, another witness also told detectives that it was not Mr. Martin who had done the shooting.
Great news? How did this happen? Who did the dirty? What will be done to the miscreant who put an innocent man in prison? Who knows, because Dwyer immediately lapsed into a fictional TV show.
Anyone who followed the fictional HBO series “The Night Of” saw a prosecutor in a murder trial deciding not to let a defense lawyer know that a new suspect had emerged. This week alone, Mr. Martin’s case was one of at least two to appear in New York City courts that had been built on withholding exculpatory evidence.
For any reader whose head has been firmly implanted up his butt for the past 50+ years, Dwyer then explains that there is a 1963 case called Brady v. Maryland. Fair enough, even though we’re kinda beyond that tidbit at this point. So what about it, Jim?
“The materiality test that Brady sets up is poorly designed,” said James B. Doyle, a lawyer who has written frequently on miscarriages of justice and what he sees as a misplaced focus on blaming a single person or cause for them.
Seriously? Not intentionally concealing Brady, as happened in Martin’s wrongful conviction, but “materiality”? Every single aspect of Brady is a botch, not to mention how it’s dealt with before and after, and your biggest issue is “materiality”?
And who is James Doyle? Having spent a few minutes of my life reading about Brady, I’ve never heard of this guy. I’ve never read anything by this guy. Maybe a link to something he’s written, Jim? I checked with my good buddy, Google, and there’s nothing there about anything Doyle has ever written. Did you owe this guy a favor, Jim? Did he get a cousin off on a DUI? Because there is nothing to show that he’s written anywhere about anything, no less “frequently on miscarriages of justice,” whatever that means.
Mr. Doyle said that prosecutors may have honorable intentions that are eroded by subtle pressures to win trials, excessive fear of losing them or zeal to cinch cases against defendants they are convinced are bad.
Well, that clears things up. Any more deep thoughts, Jim?
Judges, many of them alumni of prosecutors’ offices, rarely take their former colleagues to task; similarly, disciplinary committees for lawyers almost never issue public punishment.
In one sentence, you managed to cover an issue that launched a thousand articles, not to mention 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski’s thoughtful attention. Could you spare a second sentence, Jim?
“Brady violations go to the heart of our criminal justice system,” Joel B. Rudin, a New York lawyer, said. “Jurors can’t do their job properly without all information bearing on guilt or innocence or the credibility of witnesses.”
Joel’s a great lawyer, who has worked hard to fight against Brady abuse by prosecutors, and the best you can find for a quote is this? How dare you make Joel look insipid. He deserves better than this.
Finally, Dwyer returns to the lede to close out the article:
The prosecutor in Mr. Martin’s case quit in June and did not respond to a request to explain why those materials were not turned over to the defense.
After Mr. Martin was convicted of the double homicide, the prosecutor argued that if he were not given the harshest sentence possible, there would be more victims.
There were indeed more, but Mr. Martin had nothing to do with them. At least two other people were killed by the men named as the gunmen at the tire store.
There was a good story here, Jim. A few of them, actually, And you turned them into worthless, shallow crap. You had room in the New York Times to write something worthwhile, and you mailed it in. Maybe this would work in a “Brady for Dummies” book, but you managed to accomplish nothing beyond mentioning some nobody named Doyle, making Rudin look vapid and proving that you can’t be bothered writing a halfway intelligent article.
This is Brady, Jim. Innocent people go to prison because cops and prosecutors conceal it. For fuck’s sake, Jim, put a little effort into it. It deserves better, and you’re capable of better. This was awful. And if you can’t be bothered to write something with more depth than a puddle, let someone else have the space.
Edit: Or, as someone pointed out to me, Jim may have written a brilliant article and had it edited into worthlessness. Good point. Perhaps this mutt isn’t a reflection of Jim Dwyer at all.