SDNY Grapples with Judicial Rebukes

Bloomberg Law

11.10.2020

In this article, Lauren Briggerman, Aiysha Hussain, and Katherine Pappas examine court rulings that the U.S. Attorney's Office (USAO) for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) has failed to provide defendants with exculpatory evidence and has put politics over the law. The authors analyze three recent cases where court rulings have resulted in reputational setbacks and judicial rebukes for the SDNY and discuss steps the USAO is already taking to remedy this harm. In one response to one judge's order, and as a first step toward preventing similar occurrences, the SDNY has instituted disclosure and discovery trainings for its entire New York field office and required the office to review the judge’s memorandum. "However, it remains to be seen whether this will be enough to prompt lasting change and how the acting U.S. attorney will incentivize disclosure-compliant behavior by line prosecutors," the authors wrote. "With counsel on both sides largely still working from home and lacking in-person contact with one another, defense counsel should remain vigilant in their pursuit of exculpatory information. And as courthouses open up and criminal proceedings move forward in person, the SDNY faces the additional obstacle of overcoming these hurdles and rebuilding trust with courts and defense counsel alike."