In marking the fiftieth anniversary of Brady v. Maryland, a fitting way to appreciate the historic significance of Justice Douglas’ opinion for the Court is to turn back the pages another fifty years. Brady’s profound contribution to our criminal justice system becomes apparent by considering the impoverished state of the Supreme Court’s due process doctrine as it stood a century ago. In the fifty years that led up to Brady, the Court confronted a series of racially and politically charged cases that forced constitutional soul searching about due process in the face of rank injustice. The story of the Court’s fractious opinions in these dramatic cases – Frank v. Magnum, Moore v. Dempsey, and Mooney v. Holohan – is thus the story of what made Brady’s soaring vision of justice and fairness both possible and necessary. This Essay tells that story.
Fifty Years Before Brady, 37 The Champion 34 (2013)