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Liu v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

October 27, 2014

TZE POONG LIU, Defendant-Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff-Below, Appellee

Submitted October 22, 2014.

Case Closed November 13, 2014.

Editorial Note:

This decision has been designated as "Table of Decisions Without Published Opinions." in the Atlantic Reporter.

Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County. Cr. A. No. 88001915DI.

Before STRINE, Chief Justice, RIDGELY and VALIHURA, Justices.

ORDER

Leo E. Strine, Jr., Chief Justice.

This 27th day of October 2014, after hearing oral argument and upon consideration of the record in this case, it appears to the Court that: (1) Appellant Tze Poong Liu argues that he should receive a new trial because the State allegedly violated its duty to disclose impeaching and possibly exculpatory evidence under Brady v. Maryland.[1] " A Brady violation occurs where the State fails to disclose material evidence that is favorable to the accused." [2] " There are three components of a Brady violation: (1) evidence exists that is favorable to the accused, because it is either exculpatory or impeaching; (2) that evidence is suppressed by the State; and (3) its suppression prejudices the defendant." [3]

(2) Here, Liu did not demonstrate two of the elements necessary for there to have been a Brady violation. The supposedly suppressed evidence was a change in testimony by an important witness, William Chen, who was the husband, father, and son of the victims. The State had learned about Chen's change in testimony out of court after the second day of trial, a week before he was called to testify. Chen changed his story about his relationship with Vicky Chao, Liu's alleged accomplice. The State informed Liu of the change very soon thereafter.[4] There is no evidence in the record to suggest any misconduct or unnecessary delay on the part of the State, which immediately informed Liu's counsel of the change in testimony. Liu's counsel did not object, request a continuance, or do anything to suggest that this change would affect Liu negatively in any way. Seemingly for the sake of disposing of this matter on the ground that there was no prejudice to Liu for any delayed disclosure, the Superior Court wrote that it would assume Liu could show suppression.[5] But in our view, there was no delay, much less delay that would qualify as suppression under Brady.[6] Thus, there was no Brady violation.

(3) We also agree with the Superior Court that there was no prejudice to Liu. The trial was held over a lengthy period.[7] Liu's counsel had two months after learning of the change in Chen's testimony before Liu's own case began. Not only that, the change in testimony was helpful to and consistent with Liu's theory of the case. The change in testimony established a fact helpful to Liu, while giving Liu's counsel a basis to have the jury believe Chen was untrustworthy. For these reasons and the reasons the Superior Court set forth in its decision of February 14, 2014,[8] Liu suffered no prejudice. Thus, Liu has failed to establish two of the three Brady elements, and there is no merit to his appeal.

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that the judgment of the Superior Court is AFFIRMED.


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