California’s New Law Will Fail to Address the Larger Problem of Brady Violations

Christina E. Urhausen

Volume 69, Issue 6, 1673-1694

Brady violations have become a growing epidemic in California. As a result, California recently enacted a new law that amends section 141 of the Penal Code. The law changes the status of an “intentional” Brady violation from a misdemeanor to a felony, and imposes up to three years of prison time for those found guilty. This Note argues that this new law will fail to address the systematic problem of Brady violations. Part I discusses the legal history of the Brady decision and its progeny, as well as the shortcomings of the Brady rule. Part II explores the pervasiveness of Brady violations in California specifically. Part III explains why current safeguards are insufficient to control the problem. Part IV argues that California’s new law will have little to no effect in reducing the number of Brady violations in California. Finally, Part V proposes alternative reforms that would address the fundamental problems that lead to Brady violations.

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