Monday, July 16, 2012

Former Head of DoJ's Public Integrity Section Calls for Discovery Reform While Observing that He Was Not Responsible for the Discovery Failures in the Ted Stevens Case


William M. ("Bill") Welch II, the head of the U.S. Justice Department's Public Integrity Section during much of the investigation and all of the trial of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, has co-authored a commentary about the law regarding the process by which prosecutors provide evidence to the defense in federal criminal cases.   This process of sharing evidence is called "discovery."   

This piece by Welch and his lawyer has two points:

1.  The law of discovery in federal criminal cases should be reformed in ways that go beyond legislation proposed by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R.-Alaska).    Welch urges changing the standards in the law to make relevance rather than materiality the focus in federal criminal discovery to "ensure more robust and complete discovery to the defense."

2.  The failures in discovery in the Ted Stevens case were caused by people above and below Welch in the Justice Department and not by Welch.   In Welch's telling, those people responsible for the failures in discovery include "the overworked prosecution team" led at the Ted Stevens trial by his own No. 2, Brenda Morris  (although Welch omits her name).     

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