ABA Journal



Critical murder case evidence was withheld by then-DA, defense lawyer tells court of inquiry

Feb 7, 2013, 05:31 pm CST


The rules of criminal discovery in nearly every state are a joke. The State could receive abundant information on a criminal matter, but manipulate what must be turned over to the Defense by intentionally ruling out some individuals with knowledge from being witnesses, by encouraging law enforcement to avoid communicating with the State in writing, and by restricting their investigation into those things that are inculpatory so that nothing exculpatory ever comes up or needs to be disclosed. Worse, the State itself decides what is or is not exculpatory, leading to scenarios where the State fails to disclose "merely inconsistent" information as such information is not necessarily exculpatory.

In most civil suits where only money is at issue, an attorney has almost unlimited subpoena, deposition, and general discovery powers. In a criminal case where my client's life is on the line, I am relegated to whatever crumbs the State decides to share -- and no way of confirming that the State has done what little the rules require.

Reform is needed.

By JR on 2013 02 07, 6:38 pm CST

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