Not Informing the Defense Regarding Inducements Offered by Government to Its Witnesses
Can the Outcome of a Trial be Affected if Defense is Not Informed Regarding Inducements Offered by Government to its Witnesses ?
In United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667, 682, 87 L. Ed. 2d 481, 494, 105 S. Ct. 3375, 3383 (1985), the defendant filed a discovery motion requesting the State to provide information on " 'any deals, promises or inducements made to government witnesses in exchange for their testimony.' " Bagley, 473 U.S. at 669-70, 87 L. Ed. 2d at 486, 105 S. Ct. at 3377.
The government responded that there had not been any deals, promises, or inducements.
After his trial and conviction, however, the defendant discovered that after trial two key government witnesses were paid $ 300 each pursuant to informant contracts that were signed before trial. Bagley, 473 U.S. at 671-72, 87 L. Ed. 2d at 487, 105 S. Ct. at 3378.
The Supreme Court noted that the government's response misled defense counsel into believing that the government's witnesses could not be impeached. Bagley, 473 U.S. at 683, 87 L. Ed. 2d at 495, 105 S. Ct. at 3384.
Accordingly, the Court remanded the cause to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for a determination of whether there was a reasonable probability that, had the inducement offered by the government to its witnesses been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different. Bagley, 473 U.S. at 684, 87 L. Ed. 2d at 495, 105 S. Ct. at 3384-85.
On remand in Bagley, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit noted that the relevant inquiry was not how the particular trial judge would subjectively evaluate the undisclosed or false evidence but, rather, how the absence of the evidence might have affected the outcome of the trial from an objective standpoint. Bagley v. Lumpkin, 798 F.2d 1297, 1301 (9th Cir. 1986).
In reversing the defendant's conviction, the court of appeals then concluded that, if the defendant had known of the informant contracts showing bias or incentive to testify falsely, he might not have waived his right to a jury trial. Bagley, 798 F.2d at 1301.
The court further concluded that the evidence bore directly on the witnesses' bias to testify falsely and therefore the failure to disclose undermined confidence in the outcome of the trial. Bagley, 798 F.2d at 1302.