A federal judge in Washington wants to bolster the local criminal rules in the federal district court here to require prosecutors to turn over all favorable information to defense lawyers.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who has publicly called for changes in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that would place more demands on the prosecution, said in a letter today that an amendment to the local rules in Washington is also necessary.
Sullivan wrote to Judge Henry Kennedy, chairman of the rules committee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to request the committee consider an amendment to the local rules requiring the timely disclosure of all exculpatory information. He noted that several federal court jurisdictions already have such rules. Sullivan was the trial judge in the Ted Stevens case, where the failure of prosecutors to turn over beneficial information to Stevens' lawyers doomed the case.
In April, Sullivan made the same request to a Judicial Conference advisory committee. That committee, chaired by Judge Richard Tallman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, met in October in Seattle. Sullivan also wrote Tallman today seeking an update on that discussion.
“I remain hopeful that an amendment to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 will at some point be adopted,” Sullivan said in his letter to Kennedy. The Justice Department opposes a major overhaul of Rule 16.