Hennepin County Attorney implements new measures to ensure fair trials for defendants 

A woman speaks at a podium
Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty announces new requirements under "Brady/Giglio" policy to ensure fair trials on Wednesday.
Sarah Thamer | MPR News

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced several new measures Wednesday to ensure everyone has access to a fair trial.

County attorney Mary Moriarty said the changes are focused on the “Brady/Giglio” policy which refers to how and when the county receives and discloses information when a police officer is called as a witness in a case.

Under the new measures, law enforcement agencies are required to disclose more of officers’ misconduct history, including if an officer or professional witness was untruthful, engaged in a biased act, or violated the handling of evidence. 

“That means that if we have information that we could that could increase the probability of the defendant's innocence, we are required to turn it over prior to trial,” Moriarty said. 

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Moriarty said the county has also created a new process to ensure that the office is disclosing Brady/Giglio information that is not considered public under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.

“We have done extensive review of case law, the policies of other prosecutors’ offices, including the Department of Justice, and academic research to determine what categories of conduct should be considered potential Brady/Giglio that we must disclose to the defense,” she said. 

According to Moriarty, the county worked with more than 35 local law enforcement agencies to receive feedback and input on the new requirements. 

Brooklyn Park Police Chief Mark Bruley said the new measures have given him confidence that his department is complying with the Brady/Giglio requirements.

“That is one thing that's been refreshing with Mary, is including law enforcement, specifically police chiefs, on decision-making in a collaborative way. We meet routinely, and we weighed in heavily as I’ve had numerous conversations about this process with the county attorney’s office,” Bruley said. 

A police chief speaks to the press
Brooklyn Park Police Chief Mark Bruley at a press conference on Wednesday regarding new measures to ensure fair trials.
Sarah Thamer | MPR News

In a statement to MPR News, the Minneapolis Police Department said “MPD continues to cooperate with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office to revise and update the Memorandum of Understanding between her office, the Minneapolis Office of Police Conduct Review and the Minneapolis Police Internal Affairs Division.”

The department provided no further comment on the new changes. 

Moriarty said this new system will keep law enforcement partners up to date on litigation trends, and help identify areas for additional training. She said that wasn’t the case previously. 

County officials say they’ve hired an attorney to exclusively focus on compliance with the new requirements. 

“While the law gives our office significant power to prosecute criminal conduct and restrict freedom, the law also imposes on us significant responsibilities to ensure defendants receive fair trials,” Moriarty said. 

Moriarty said this process remains interim as the office continues to work with Hennepin County law enforcement agencies and their city attorneys on a permanent policy to ensure the office is receiving information in compliance with Brady/Giglio.

Last month, Moriarty announced that her office was working on a set of reforms following the release of Marvin Haynes from a Stillwater prison. A judge vacated his 2005 murder conviction after a lengthy legal challenge from Haynes’ sister and the Great North Innocence Project.