Anonymous User wrote:Anonymous User wrote:Anonymous User wrote:When applying to a prosecutor's office, what should be the appropriate response to the following?:
You find out the only witness to your case just died of a heart attack. You are on your way to the courtroom to have the case dismissed when defense counsel comes to you and says his client wants to change his plea. What do you do? (My initial thought is that Brady requires disclosure of all material evidence. However, the defendant decided to admit guilt. Since this isn't going to trial the prosecutor won't need to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt if the defendant pleads out, a prosecutor wouldn't have to tell the defendant pursuant to Brady. But then ABA Rule 3.8 says prosecutors can't bring cases not supported by probable cause, and now the only witness to support that probable cause is gone. What is a proper response?)
What an awful question! Which office asks this? And why are we going to trial on a case with no officer (or is the officer the one who died of a heart attack?)
Well, this specific hypo's come up a bunch of times on this board (maybe even this thread? I know I've seen it here before), so either people here just keep applying to the same office that uses it, or it's relatively common.
(My understanding was that Brady requires disclosure of exculpatory evidence - but the witness dying isn't exculpatory, because it doesn't change the likelihood that the def committed the crime, just the prosecution's ability to prove it. Not sure how the witness dying ties into probable cause, though - never took Crim Pro! My theory is when in doubt, disclose. But also, most interviewers want to see your thought process more than they want you to come up with a right answer.)
You absolutely would need to disclose the fact that a key witness died. That is the definition of exculpatory evidence. If you need to disclose impeachment material pursuant to Brady, of course you would need to tell the defense that your only witness died. Your Brady obligations don't dissipate if the defendant wants to plead guily. I was asked this question by a couple of prosecutor offices and I explained that I would need to disclose pursuant to Brady -- and I got callbacks from those offices.
Your job as a prosecutor is to "do justice," and so you really need to make sure that you nail the ethical hypos in your interviews. If you don't know, say you would consult a supervisor if in doubt.