Nevada Authorities Accused of Routinely Hiding Evidence
If you're going to get charged with a crime, maybe you better hope it's not in Nevada.
Police and prosecutors in the Las Vegas Valley routinely try to keep essential information from defense lawyers, violating the constitutional rights of those accused of crimes, defense attorneys and the county public defender say.
Besides violating the U.S. and Nevada constitutions and potentially putting innocent people behind bars, the actions of the district attorney's office and Metro Police waste large amounts of time and money, as defenders must go to court over and over to obtain evidence to which they are legally entitled, the attorneys say.
Defense lawyers plan to file a "major lawsuit" in the next few months over the issue.
High courts have repeatedly ruled that prosecutors' bag of tricks does not include hiding evidence that might hurt their case and help the accused. But that, the defense lawyers contend, is what is going on in Clark County.
Prosecutors deny the allegations and say they have an open-file policy. Then they turn around and say:
....defense lawyers are not entitled to as much documentation as they think they are.
That's the wrong attitude. And one of the reasons so many innocent people are languishing in our jails. As one lawyer points out,
...the fight for full disclosure wasn't about "getting criminals off on a technicality."
"This is about making sure that the trial is a search for truth, and that all the truth comes out," he said. "I'm tired of hearing about people being exonerated after years on death row. That's how you get innocent people convicted -- when you don't get all the facts."
Maybe Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, formerly one of the nation's top criminal defense attorneys, can make a few calls and resolve this.
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