No Right to Favorable Evidence Before Pleading Guilty

Sept. 19, 2018, 4:10 PM

A defendant didn’t have a right to evidence that could’ve proved his innocence prior to pleading guilty, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said.

Refusing to reverse circuit precedent, the Sept. 18 opinion by Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart said the right to exculpatory evidence recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court only extends to trial preparation.

The holding accentuates a circuit split.

The Fifth Circuit agreed with the First, Second and Fourth circuits. But the Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth circuits have suggested that prosecutors should disclose known exculpatory evidence prior to a defendant’s guilty plea.

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