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When Innocence Is Not Enough

April 06, 2023

Tom Dybdahl L’98 and Christina Swarns L’93 recently discussed prosecutorial misconduct, the Brady rule of evidence disclosure, and Dybdahl’s new book.

The Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School was pleased to welcome former District of Columbia Public Defender Tom Dybdahl L’98 and current Executive Director of the Innocence Project, Christina Swarns L’93 back to Penn Carey Law for a discussion of prosecutorial misconduct, the Brady rule of evidence disclosure, and Dybdahl’s new book When Innocence Is Not Enough: Hidden Evidence and the Failed Promise of the Brady Rule.

The discussion was moderated by the Quattrone Center’s Executive Director John F. Hollway C’92, MAPP’18.

Watch the full event:

When Innocence Is Not Enough is a gripping work of narrative nonfiction that exposes what’s at stake when prosecutors fail to turn over exculpatory evidence, and what we can do about it. Dybdahl illustrates the promise and shortcomings of the Brady rule through deft storytelling and attention to crucial cases, including the infamous 1984 murder of Catherine Fuller in Washington, D.C. This case led to eight young Black men being sent to prison for life after the prosecutor, afraid of losing the biggest case of his career, hid information that would have proven their innocence.

With a seasoned defense lawyer’s unsparing eye for detail, Dybdahl chronicles the evolution of the Brady rule — from its unexpected birth to the series of legal decisions that left it defanged and ineffective. Yet Dybdahl shows us a path forward by highlighting promising reform efforts across the country that offer a blueprint for a legislative revival of Brady’s true spirit.

Learn more about the Quattrone Center’s commitment to the fair administration of justice.