This year commemorated the 50th anniversary of the landmark case Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), in which the Supreme Court announced that the withholding of exculpatory evidence from the defense violates Due Process. Since Brady, the Supreme Court has made clear time and time again the need for prosecutors to be forthright with evidence that may cast doubt on the guilt of the accused. Unfortunately, a disturbing new development in one of our cases demonstrates that prosecutors are still failing to live up to their Brady obligations 50 years later.
Last Friday we submitted Reply in support of our Motion for a New Trial in the case of United States v. Thomas Gioeli. This Motion comes on the heels of the dramatic revelation that the government had suppressed evidence critical to Gioeli’s defense. Gioeli was acquitted of six murders last year, but found guilty of lesser charges including conspiracy to murder Frank “Chestnut” Marasa. The jury convicted Gioeli largely based on the testimony of Dino Calabro (pictured above) who testified that he shot Chestnut while working with a group selected by Gioeli.
As reported by the media, more than a year after that trial, the government revealed for the first time that at the time Gioeli was on trial, it had evidence that another person, never mentioned by Calabro, confessed to participation in the murder. Additionally, this new witness revealed that Joseph Competiello, who also testified against Gioeli, also participated in the Chestnut murder, which Comptiello denied under oath.
While we wait for the Court to rule on our motion, we can’t help but wonder how many more years need to pass, and how many cases need to be reversed, before the prosecutors fulfill the promise of Brady.