A BLOG from our #ABKLaw Partner Hon. Barry Kamins: Landmark Discovery Legislation in Criminal Cases
Almost a half century ago, New York enacted a discovery statute that provided minimal discovery for defendants in criminal cases. That statute is about to be repealed and replaced with a groundbreaking new piece of legislation. In this proposed legislation, the prosecutor will be required to provide, within 15 days of arraignment, copies of police reports and any exculpatory evidence. In addition, prosecutors will be required to supply defense attorneys with the names and addresses of witnesses, criminal arrest reports of witnesses and other items that have never been readily available to defense counsel before. Further, before a defendant takes a guilty plea, he or she must be given discovery at least a week before taking the plea. A prosecutor can no longer state that he is ready for trial unless he first files a certificate of compliance, attesting to the fact that discovery has been turned over. Finally, a defense attorney will have the the right to depose a police officer prior to trial.
To be sure, prosecutors will be lobbying the legislature to remove a number of the above measures from the bill. It remains to be seen how successful they will be. But one thing is sure–enhanced discovery will be enacted soon that will change the landscape in criminal cases.
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