Hennepin County Attorney unveils new policy to track officer credibility
One year into her term as the Hennepin County Attorney, Mary Moriarty is promising to disclose more information in court about an officer’s history of misconduct.
It’s referred to as Brady material in court, named after a Supreme Court ruling from the 1960s that requires prosecutors to disclose potentially damning details about officers in their cases.
But for years, judges have called out Hennepin County on multiple occasions for not disclosing this information. In 2022 investigators with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights described the county’s system as “failing”.
Since then, 5 INVESTIGATES has reported on the flaws in the system and the impact it has had on defendants.
But Moriarty now describes the new process as a fundamental change.
“It’s really exciting because I think it’s a new era of cooperation and communication between our office and law enforcement,” she said in an interview with 5 INVESTIGATES Tuesday morning, previewing her announcement.
As part of the new policy, Moriarty says she has made multiple new hires to lead the collection of so-called Brady material.
The office is now collecting a much broader set of information about officer misconduct from all 35 police agencies in the county.
One of the big shifts in the system is prosecutors will now be directed to get a court order from a judge if they need to obtain information on an officer that’s not classified as public.
Moriarty says they will take extra steps to keep that information private.
“This is about our accountability, our credibility, to be consistent, to make sure that we are giving every defendant a fair opportunity to look at what’s there. But also to be arguing on behalf of law enforcement, if it isn’t relevant,” she said.
The new process is designed to prevent cases like what 5 INVESTIGATES highlighted in 2022 when a prosecutor accused an MPD officer in court of engaging in a cover-up, but the same officer was then called to testify again in another case.
At the time, the office said that issue was not disclosed because the officer was not disciplined.
“We can’t be going into court and making those arguments that are logically inconsistent,” Moriarty said.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Brooklyn Park Police Chief Mark Bruley applauded the new system.
“I lacked the confidence in the previous administration and how we were doing things and there were many loopholes,” he said. “I think we could have done it better and this process has tightened that up.”
Previous reporting by 5 INVESTIGATES found that when a judge would find an officer is not credible, that information was never saved. Moriarty says that’s no longer the case.
This collection of material is commonly referred to by prosecutors as a Brady list.
The previous administration repeatedly said it does not keep a Brady list, but Moriarty said this week that there has always been a list and that it will continue.
“This office always had a Brady list. For reasons that I can’t answer, they said they didn’t,” she said. “You can call it a Brady list. You can call it a computer database. My predecessor had it. OK, we have it.”
Moriarty stressed that if an officer is on that list it does not mean their career is in jeopardy. It means there is something in the file that may have to be disclosed in court.