A previously undisclosed email between former Harris County prosecutor Dan Rizzo and former Houston Police Department Officer Breck McDaniel is being released Friday to lawyers representing Alfred Dewayne Brown in a civil rights lawsuit against
Harris County. The email is new evidence in the civil case brought by Brown, whose criminal case was dismissed in 2015.
Brown spent nearly 10 years on death row until the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 2014 determined that he should get a new trial due to a Brady violation, specifically the prosecutor’s failure to disclose a phone record that could have been used by Brown at trial to corroborate his alibi defense.
At the time Brown’s conviction was challenged, the prosecution and defense agreed the failure to disclose the phone records was “inadvertent.” The new evidence suggests, however, that well before Brown’s trial, Rizzo was informed about the existence of the records, yet failed to disclose or provide them to the defense counsel or the jury. Without access to actual records, the defense was unable to use them in Brown’s defense.
The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct require that “the appropriate disciplinary authority” shall be informed when a lawyer becomes aware that another lawyer has “committed a violation of applicable rules of professional conduct that raises a substantial question as to the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in all other respects.”
Accordingly, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office will notify the State Bar of Texas of the newly discovered evidence so that it may investigate the prosecutor’s professional conduct while handling the Brown case.