Assembly Bill 885, authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), addresses instances of intentional or knowing prosecutorial misconduct. This bill is sponsored by the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.
Specifically, the bill allows a court to read a jury instruction when a prosecutor intentionally or knowingly withholds evidence that may indicate innocence, erode the credibility of a witness, or is otherwise favorable to the defense.
Prosecutorial misconduct is a growing issue in the United States. As recently as December 2013, Ninth Circuit judge Alex Kozinski warned of “an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land.” Both the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times have called for discovery reform addressing this “epidemic.” These Brady violations can happen to anyone – from United States Senator Ted Stevens to an average citizen like Obie Anthony. Obie has walked the halls of the California state capitol advocating for the passage of AB 885. Instead of being angry at the system which unjustly incarcerated him for 17 years, Obie is working to ensure this injustice never occurs again.
AB 885 passed both houses of the California legislature on August 29, 2014. The bill is now at Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for its final consideration. Governor Brown must sign or veto the bill by September 30, 2014.