A proposed rule change that would require prosecutors and defense attorneys in Alaska to disclose evidence that points toward a defendant’s innocence will be considered by the state’s high court Thursday.
While lawyers are bound by legal obligations under the Constitution, there are no court rules in Alaska that require prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence, but the Alaska Bar Association has been trying to change that for the past several years, reported KTUU- NBC Anchorage.
“This is designed to encourage lawyers to think about the consequences of not doing anything,” said Steve Van Goor, counsel for the Alaska Bar Association. “When you’re in a position to report evidence and don’t, an innocent person sits in prison.”
According to Van Goor, the primary motivation to enact rules requiring disclosure of exculpatory is the number of people that have been exonerated by new evidence.
I don’t think anyone in Alaska, or the United States, can deny that wrongful convictions happen,” said Oberly, executive director of the
Alaska Innocence Project
. “We have to correct those, or our justice system is a sham.”