DE: State High Court Reprimands and Disqualifies Prosecutors for Stealing Attorney-Client Information from Defendant’s Cell

By Bert | May 14, 2019 | The Open File Blog:

Wildly inappropriate behavior from the office of the prosecutor in Delaware’s largest city generated fascinating discussion among the justices in a recent Delaware Supreme Court opinion. The decision concerns the court’s review of a lower court’s dismissal of Jacquez Robinson’s first-degree murder indictment on the basis of law enforcement misconduct. Specifically, New Castle County prosecutors and their investigators raided the defendant’s jail cell and took his confidential files and notes, which included trial strategy, without notifying the court or his lawyer. In a close call, the five justices of the state’s highest court split three-to-two, with the majority deciding to reverse the lower court’s ruling. Although they declined to dismiss the indictment, the majority reprimanded the prosecutors, disqualified them from further participation in the case, ordered the office to destroy all trial work-product, and required the office to notify the trial court of its opinion if another instance of this misconduct was found. The dissenting justices would have gone even further, finding that the State’s “guileful and inept” response to being caught showed that the problem of misconduct demonstrated by their handling of Mr. Robinson’s documents is not merely an isolated incident.


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