When Innocence Is Not Enough: Hidden Evidence and the Failed Promise of the Brady Rule

New Pr. Jan. 2023. 224p. ISBN 9781620977040. $29.99. LAW
Dybdahl, a former attorney for the Public Defender Service in Washington, DC, debuts with an exploration of how the 1963 Brady v. Maryland U.S. Supreme Court ruling required prosecutors to share—not withhold—favorable evidence with the defense. The author gives readers a deep history of Brady and shows how subsequent, watered-down rulings impacted defendants whose cases were weakened when information was withheld. Dybdahl recounts the case of eight young Black men who were charged and convicted of the murder of a Washington, DC, woman. The police pushed a false gang narrative and eventually coerced one of the defendants into making a “confession” with glaring inconsistencies to the actual crime. The prosecution also withheld key evidence that pointed to a different assailant, and the book details how shockingly easy it was for them to do so with impunity. With an insider’s perspective as a public defender, Dybdal peels away the layers of deception that destroyed the lives of those eight men and made the systemic failures possible.
VERDICT A well-researched, impactful account of the inequities in the legal justice system. Should be required reading for anyone working in the criminal justice system.
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