Constitutional Obligation of the State to Disclose Exculpatory Evidence

In Rogers v. State, 782 So. 2d 373 (Fla. 2001), the Supreme Court of Florida went to some lengths to explain the State's constitutional obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence under the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brady v. Maryland. The Court believes that explanation is equally pertinent to our analysis here: In Brady, the United States Supreme Court held that the "suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused . . . violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution." 373 U.S. at 87, 83 S. Ct. 1194. In Kyles, the Court wrote: United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667, 105 S. Ct. 3375, 87 L. Ed. 2d 481 (1985), held that regardless of request by defendant, favorable evidence is material, and constitutional error results from its suppression by the government, "if there is a reasonable probability that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different." 473 U.S., at 682, 105 S. Ct. 3375 (opinion of Blackmun, J.); id., at 685, 105 S. Ct. 3375 (White, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment). InYoung v. State, 739 So. 2d 553 (Fla. 1999), the Court recognized this emphasis placed on the materiality prong and stated: Although defendants have the right to pretrial discovery under our Rules of Criminal Procedure, and thus there is an obligation upon defendant to exercise due diligence pretrial to obtain information . . . the focus in postconviction Brady-Bagley analysis is ultimately the nature and weight of undisclosed information. The ultimate test in backward-looking postconviction analysis is whether information which the State possessed and did not reveal to the defendant and which information was thereby unavailable to the defendant for trial, is of such a nature and weight that confidence in the outcome of the trial is undermined to the extent that there is a reasonable probability that had the information been disclosed to the defendant, the result of the proceeding would have been different.Young, 739 So. 2d at 559.