Does Brady Apply to Supervised Release Revocation Hearings?

By Alex Breindel
October 1, 2022

Many federal offenders face a term of supervised release upon leaving prison. The successor to the federal parole system, supervised release places conditions upon individuals’ freedom. Violation of a condition may result in revocation of release and reimprisonment. To revoke release, the government must prove to a judge by a preponderance of the evidence that a violation occurred. At this proceeding, known as a “revocation hearing,” the individual may contest the alleged violation and present their own evidence.

Under Brady v. Maryland and its progeny, due process requires the government to disclose material exculpatory evidence to criminal defendants. This Note examines the potential application of the Brady right to disclosure in supervised release revocation hearings. Lacking clear guidance, federal courts differ in their application of this right in revocation hearings. This Note discusses this divergence within the federal system as well as the corresponding arguments that courts put forth.

This Note then argues that the U.S. Supreme Court’s due process framework supports application of Brady to supervised release revocations. This Note also argues that Brady application is supported by the intertwinement of the Brady right and the right to effective counsel, as well as the Court’s provision of counsel to contested revocations. Finally, this Note addresses arguments against applying Brady and contends they are unavailing.

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