SJR 7: Addressing Prosecutors Withholding Evidence

This Bill did not reach a floor vote in the Senate.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Currently, if an individual or police officer intentionally conceals or withholds important evidence in an attempt to cause someone to be charged with a crime, they are in violation of the law. But what if a prosecuting attorney does something similar by concealing or withholding “exculpatory” evidence which would alter the outcome of a case?

At this time in Utah, there is no punishment or significant consequence for a prosecuting attorney who deliberately withholds this kind of evidence. Senator Todd Weiler aims to change this circumstance in court rule with SJR 7. Court rules are regulations that govern the procedures of a court and how various matters pending before court are handled and processed.

SJR 7 changes court rule to direct prosecutors to reveal exculpatory evidence (evidence that may exonerate the defendant). Unfortunately, this bill doesn’t make this kind of behavior a crime. More work is needed on this issue and we believe that this type of act should be punishable with the penalty of a felony. SJR 7 is a step in the right direction, but expect to see weightier legislation next year.