Court Orders Government to Identify Brady Materials in 4 Million Page Document Dump
In United States v. Blankenship, Case No. 14-cr-00244 (June 12, 2015), the Southern District of West Virginia considered whether the U.S. government needed to identify its Brady materials within a four million page “document dump.”
Defendant, charged with multiple counts regarding mining safety and securities violations, made a Brady request to the government, requiring it to produce all documents favorable to the accused. In response, the United States produced four million pages of documents.
Defendant moved to compel the government to specifically identify the Brady materials included within the “document dump,” arguing that the United States had buried exculpatory Brady material in the “document dump” and that the government’s failure to organize and categorize the files violated his constitutional rights. The government argued that because it had produced the documents electronically, Defendant could sort and search through them. Defendant responded that a large portion of the production was not fully searchable and that some of the production did not contain metadata.
The court held that Defendant made no showing of bad faith on the part of the government, but that the government’s production failed to comply with the due process requirements that underlie Brady requirements. The court noted, “[t]he Brady rule is based on the requirement of due process. Its purpose is not to displace the adversary system as the primary means by which truth is uncovered, but to ensure that a miscarriage of justice does not occur . . . the prosecutor’s role transcends that of an adversary: he ‘is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty . . . whose interest . . . in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done.” Accordingly, the court held that the government must specifically designate any known Brady material within the four million plus pages of discovery.