RULE 19-303.8. SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF A PROSECUTOR (3.8)
West's Annotated Code of MarylandMaryland RulesEffective: January 1, 2023
Effective: January 1, 2023
MD Rules Attorneys, Rule 19-303.8
RULE 19-303.8. SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF A PROSECUTOR (3.8)
The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:
(d) make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense, and, in connection with sentencing, disclose to the defense and to the tribunal all unprivileged mitigating information known to the prosecutor, except when the prosecutor is relieved of this responsibility by a protective order of the tribunal;
(e) except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor's action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and exercise reasonable care to prevent an employee or other person under the control of the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 19-303.6 (3.6) or this Rule;
 A prosecutor has the responsibility of a minister of justice and not simply that of an advocate. This responsibility carries with it specific obligations to see that the defendant is accorded procedural justice and that guilt is decided upon the basis of sufficient evidence. Precisely how far the prosecutor is required to go in this direction is a matter of debate and varies in different jurisdictions. Many jurisdictions have adopted the ABA Standards of Criminal Justice Relating to Prosecution Function, which in turn are the product of prolonged and careful deliberation by attorneys experienced in both criminal prosecution and defense. See also Rule 19-303.3 (d) (3.3), governing ex parte proceedings, among which grand jury proceedings are included. Applicable law may require other measures by the prosecutor and knowing disregard of those obligations or a systematic abuse of prosecutorial discretion could constitute a violation of Rule 19-308.4 (8.4).
 Section (c) of this Rule does not apply to an accused appearing self-represented with the approval of the tribunal. Nor does it forbid the lawful questioning of a suspect who has knowingly waived the rights to an attorney and silence.
 The exception in section (d) of this Rule recognizes that a prosecutor may seek an appropriate protective order from the tribunal if disclosure of information to the defense could result in substantial harm to an individual or to the public interest.
 Section (e) of this Rule supplements Rule 19-303.6 (3.6), which prohibits extrajudicial statements that have a substantial likelihood of prejudicing an adjudicatory proceeding. In the context of a criminal prosecution, a prosecutor's extrajudicial statement can create the additional problem of increasing public condemnation of the accused. Although the announcement of an indictment, for example, will necessarily have severe consequences for the accused, a prosecutor can, and should, avoid comments which have no legitimate law enforcement purpose and have a substantial likelihood of increasing public opprobrium of the accused. Nothing in this Comment is intended to restrict the statements which a prosecutor may make which comply with Rule 19-303.6 (b) (3.6) or 19-303.6 (c) (3.6).
 Like other attorneys, prosecutors are subject to Rules 19-305.1 (5.1) and 19-305.3 (5.3), which relate to responsibilities regarding attorneys and non-attorneys who work for or are associated with the attorney's office. Section (e) of this Rule reminds the prosecutor of the importance of these obligations in connection with the unique dangers of improper extrajudicial statements in a criminal case. In addition, section (e) of this Rule requires a prosecutor to exercise reasonable care to prevent persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor from making improper extrajudicial statements, even when such persons are not under the direct supervision of the prosecutor. Ordinarily, the reasonable care standard will be satisfied if the prosecutor issues the appropriate cautions to law-enforcement personnel and other relevant individuals.
 When a prosecutor knows of new, credible, and material evidence creating a reasonable likelihood that a person outside the prosecutor's jurisdiction was convicted of a crime that the person did not commit, section (f) of this Rule requires prompt disclosure to the court or other appropriate authority, such as the chief prosecutor of the jurisdiction where the conviction occurred. If the conviction was obtained in the prosecutor's jurisdiction, section (f) of this Rule requires the prosecutor to examine the evidence and undertake further investigation to determine whether the defendant is in fact innocent or make reasonable efforts to cause another appropriate authority to undertake the necessary investigation, and to promptly disclose the evidence to the court and, absent court-authorized delay, to the defendant. Consistent with the objectives of Rules 19-304.2 (4.2) and 19-304.3 (4.3), disclosure to a represented defendant must be made through the defendant's attorney, and, in the case of an unrepresented defendant, would ordinarily be accompanied by a request to a court for the appointment of an attorney to assist the defendant in taking such legal measures as may be appropriate.
 Under section (g) of this Rule, once the prosecutor knows of clear and convincing evidence that the defendant was convicted of an offense that the defendant did not commit, the prosecutor must seek to remedy the conviction. Necessary steps may include disclosure of the evidence to the defendant, requesting that the court appoint an attorney for an unrepresented indigent defendant and, where appropriate, notifying the court that the prosecutor has knowledge that the defendant did not commit the offense of which the defendant was convicted.
 A prosecutor's independent judgment, made in good faith, that the new evidence is not of such nature as to trigger the obligations of sections (f) and (g) of this Rule, though subsequently determined to have been erroneous, does not constitute a violation of this Rule.
Model Rules Comparison: Rule 19-303.8 (3.8) has been rewritten to retain elements of existing Maryland language and to incorporate some changes from the Ethics 2000 Amendments to the ABA Model Rules and from the 2008 amendments to ABA Model Rule 3.8. ABA Model Rule 3.8 (e) has not been adopted.
[Adopted June 6, 2016, eff. July 1, 2016. Amended Sept. 30, eff. Jan. 1, 2023.]
MD R Attorneys, Rule 19-303.8, MD R ATTORNEYS Rule 19-303.8
Current with amendments received through October 1, 2023. Some sections may be more current, see credits for details.
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