Split Intensifies Over Prosecutors’ Ethical Disclosure Duties

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Professor Bruce Green was quoted in an ABA Journal article following the ongoing debate over the ethical duties of prosecutors when it comes to evidence disclosure.

States remain split on whether a prosecutor’s ethical duties for disclosures in a criminal case should extend beyond their constitutional obligations set by the U.S. Supreme Court. Most recently, the Tennessee Supreme Court vacated a formal ethics opinion from its Board of Professional Responsibility that determined a prosecutor’s ethical duties were more expansive than those required under the Supreme Court’s decision in Brady v. Maryland (1963).

Bruce Green, who helped draft the ABA Ethics Committee’s 2009 opinion, explains that there are many provisions in the rules of professional conduct that impose different requirements than existing legal standards.

“Most of the ethical rules are not just parroting back existing law or standards,” says Green, who directs the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University School of Law. “The very nature of the rules of professional conduct is that they are imposing additional standards on lawyers. There is nothing anomalous about having multiple legal standards applied to lawyers in general and to prosecutors in general.”

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