In August 1994, the ABA House of Delegates approved these “black letter” standards that have been published with commentary in ABA Standards for Criminal Justice: Discovery and Trial by Jury, 3d ed., © 1996 American Bar Association. For the text of the publication , click HERE .
PART I. GENERAL PRINCIPLES
(a) Procedures prior to trial should, consistent with the constitutional rights of the defendant:
(i) promote a fair and expeditious disposition of the charges, whether by diversion, plea, or trial;
(ii) provide the defendant with sufficient information to make an informed plea;
(iii) permit thorough preparation for trial and minimize surprise at trial;
(iv) reduce interruptions and complications during trial and avoid unnecessary and repetitious trials by identifying and resolving prior to trial any procedural, collateral, or constitutional issues;
(v) minimize the procedural and substantive inequities among similarly situated defendants;
(vi) effect economies in time, money, judicial resources, and professional skills by minimizing paperwork, avoiding repetitious assertions of issues, and reducing the number of separate hearing; and
(vii) minimize the burden upon victims and witnesses.
(b) These needs can be served by:
(i) full and free exchange of appropriate discovery;
(ii) simpler and more efficient procedures; and
(iii) procedural pressures for expediting the processing of cases.
These standards should be applied in all criminal cases. Discovery procedures may be more limited than those described in these standards in cases involving minor offenses, provided the procedures are sufficient to permit the party adequately to investigate and prepare the case.
(a) when used in these standards, a "written statement" of a person shall include:
(i) any statement in writing that is made, signed or adopted by that person; and
(ii) the substance of a statement of any kind made by that person that is embodied or summarized in any writing or recording, whether or not specifically signed or adopted by that person. The term is intended to include statements contained in police or investigative reports, but does not include attorney work product.
(b) When used in these standards, an "oral statement" of a person shall mean the substance of any statement of any kind by that person, whether or not reflected in any existing writing or recording.
PART II. DISCOVERY OBLIGATIONS OF THE PROSECUTION AND DEFENSE
(a) The prosecution should, within a specified and reasonable time prior to trial, disclose to the defense the following information and material and permit inspection, copying, testing, and photographing of disclosed documents or tangible objects:
(i) All written and all oral statements of the defendant or of any codefendant that are within the possession or control of the prosecution and that relate to the subject matter of the offense charged, and any documents relating to the acquisition of such statements.
(ii) The names and addresses of all persons known to the prosecution to have information concerning the offense charged, together with all written statements of any such person that are within the possession or control of the prosecution and that relate to the subject matter of the offense charged. The prosecution should also identify the persons it intends to call as witnesses at trial.
(iii) The relationship, if any, between the prosecution and any witness it intends to call at trial, including the nature and circumstances of any agreement, understanding or representation between the prosecution and the witness that constitutes an inducement for the cooperation or testimony of the witness.
(iv) Any reports or written statements of experts made in connection with the case, including results of physical or mental examinations and of scientific tests, experiments, or comparisons and of scientific tests, experiments or comparisons. With respect to each expert whom the prosecution intends to call as a witness at trial, the prosecutor should also furnish to the defense a curriculum vitae and a written description of the substance of the proposed testimony of the expert, the expert’s opinion, and the underlying basis of that opinion.
(v) Any tangible objects, including books, papers, documents, photographs, buildings, places, or any other objects, which pertain to the case or which were obtained for or belong to the defendant. The prosecution should also identify which of these tangible objects it intends to offer as evidence at trial.
(vi) Any record of prior criminal convictions, pending charges, or probationary status of the defendant or of any codefendant, and insofar as known to the prosecution, any record of convictions, pending charges, or probationary status that may be used to impeachment of any witness to be called by either party at trial.
(vii) Any material, documents, or information relating to lineups, showups, and picture or voice identifications in relation to the case.
(viii) Any material or information within the prosecutor’s possession or control which tends to negate the guilt of the defendant as to the offense charged or which would tend to reduce the punishment of the defendant.
(b) If the prosecution intends to use character, reputation, or other act of evidence, the prosecution should notify the defense of that intention and of the substance of the evidence to be used.
(c) If the defendant’s conversations or premises have been subjected to electronic surveillance (including wiretapping) in connection with the investigation or prosecution of the case, the prosecution should inform the defense of that fact.
(d) If any tangible object which the object which the prosecutor intends to offer at trial was obtained through a search and seizure, the prosecution should disclose to the defense any information, documents, or other material relating to the acquisition of such objects.
(a) The defense should, within a specified and reasonable time prior to trial, disclose to the prosecution the following information and material and permit inspection, copying, testing, and photographing of disclosed documents and tangible objects:
(i) The names and addresses of all witnesses (other than the defendant) whom the defense intends to call at trial, together with all written statements of any such witness that are within the possession or control of the defense and that relate to the subject matter of the testimony of the witness. Disclosure of the identity and statements of a person who will be called for the sole purpose of impeaching a prosecution witness should not be required until after the prosecution witness has testified at trial.
(ii) Any reports or written statements made in connection with the case by experts whom the defense intends to call at trial, including the results of physical or mental examinations and of scientific tests, experiments, or comparisons that the defendant intends to offer as evidence at trial. For each such expert witness, the defense should also furnish to the prosecution a curriculum vitae and a written description of the substance of the proposed testimony of the expert, the expert’s opinion, and the underlying basis of that opinion.
(iii) Any tangible objects, including books, papers, documents, photographs, buildings, places, or any other objects, which the defense intends to introduce as evidence at trial.
(b) If the defense intends to use character, reputation, or other act evidence not relating to the defendant, the defense should notify the prosecution of that intention and of the substance of the evidence to be used.
(c) If the defense intends to rely upon a defense of alibi or insanity, the defense should notify the prosecution of that intent and of the names of the witnesses who may be called in support of that defense.
(a) After the initiation of judicial proceedings, the defendant should be required, upon the prosecution’s request, to appear within a time specified for the purpose of permitting the prosecution to obtain fingerprints, photographs, handwriting exemplars, or voice exemplars from the defendant, or for the purpose of having the defendant appear, move, or speak for identification in a lineup or try on clothing or other articles. Whenever the personal appearance of the defendant is required for the foregoing purposes, reasonable notice of the time and place of such appearance should be given by the prosecuting attorney to the defendant and the defendant’s counsel.
(b) Upon motion by the prosecution, with reasonable notice to the defendant and defendant’s counsel, the court should, upon an appropriate showing, order the defendant to appear for the following purposes:
(i) to permit the taking of specimens of blood, urine, saliva, breath, hair, nails, and material under the nails;
(ii) to permit the taking of samples of other materials of the body;
(iii) to submit to a reasonable physical or medical inspection of the body; or
(iv) to participate in other reasonable and appropriate procedures.
(c) The motion and order pursuant to paragraph (b) above should specify the following information where appropriate: the authorized procedure, the scope of the defendant’s participation, the name or job title of the person who is to conduct the procedure, and the time, duration, place, and other conditions under which the procedure is to be conducted.
(d) The court should issue the order sought pursuant to paragraph (b) above if it finds that:
(i) the appearance of the defendant for the procedure specified may be material to the determination of the issues in the case; and
(ii) the procedure is reasonable and will be conducted in a manner which does not involve an unreasonable intrusion of the body or an unreasonable affront to the dignity of the individual; and
(iii) the request is reasonable.
(e) Defense counsel may be present at any of the foregoing procedures unless, with respect to a psychiatric examination, it is otherwise ordered by the court.
PART III. SPECIAL DISCOVERY PROCEDURES
(a) Upon motion by either party, if the court finds that there is good cause to believe that the evidence sought may be material to the determination of the issues in the case, the court should, in advance of trial, issue compulsory process for the following purposes:
(i) To obtain documents and other tangible objects in the possession of persons not parties to the case.
(ii) To allow the entry upon property owned or controlled by persons not parties to the case. Such process should be issued if the court finds that the party requesting entry has met the standard that the government would be required to meet to obtain access to the property at issue.
(iii) To obtain from a third party fingerprints, photographs, handwriting exemplars, or voice exemplars, or to compel a third party to appear, move or speak for identification in a lineup, to try on clothing or other articles, to permit the taking of specimens of blood, urine, saliva, breath, hair, nails, or other materials of the body, to submit to a reasonable physical or medical inspection of the body, or to participate in other reasonable and appropriate procedures. Such process should be issued if the court finds that:
(1) the procedure is reasonable and will be conducted in a manner which does not involve an unreasonable intrusion of the body or an unreasonable affront to the dignity of the individual; and
(2) the request is reasonable.
(b) The motion and the order should specify the following information where appropriate: the authorized procedure; the scope of participation of the third party; the name or job title of the person who is to conduct the procedure; and the time, duration, place and other conditions under which the procedure is to be conducted.
(c) A person whose interests would be affected by the compulsory process sought should have the right and a reasonable opportunity to move to quash the process on the ground that compliance would subject the person to an undue burden, or would require that disclosure of material that is privileged or otherwise protected from disclosure, or would otherwise be unreasonable.
(a) If either party intends to destroy or transfer out of its possession any objects or information otherwise discoverable under these standards, the party should give notice to the other party sufficiently in advance to afford that party an opportunity to object or take other appropriate action.
(b) Upon motion, either party should be permitted to conduct evaluations or tests of physical evidence in the possession or control of the other party which is subject to disclosure. The motion should specify the nature of the test or evaluation to be conducted, the names and qualifications of the experts designated to conduct evaluations or tests, and the material upon which such tests will be conducted. The court may make such orders as are necessary to make the material to be tested or examined available to the designated expert.
(i) The court should condition its order so as to preserve the integrity of the material to be tested or evaluated.
(ii) If the material is contraband material or a controlled substance, the entity having custody of the material may elect to have a representative present during the testing of the material.
PART IV. TIMING AND MANNER OF DISCLOSURE
(a) Each jurisdiction should develop time limits within which discovery should be performed. The time limits should be such that discovery is initiated as early as practicable in the process. The time limit for completion of discovery should be sufficiently early in the process that each party has sufficient time to use the disclosed information adequately to prepare for trial.
(b) The time limits adopted by each jurisdiction should provide that, in the general discovery sequence, disclosure should first be made by the prosecution to the defense. The defense should then be required to make its correlative disclosure within a specified time after prosecution disclosure has been made.
(c) Each party should be under a continuing obligation to produce discoverable material to the other side. If, subsequent to compliance with these standards or orders pursuant thereto, a party discovers additional material or information which is subject to disclosure, the other party should promptly be notified of the existence of such additional material. If the additional material or information is discovered during or after trial, the court should also be notified.
Disclosure may be accomplished in any manner mutually agreeable to the parties. Absent agreement, the party having the burden of production should:
(a) notify opposing counsel that material and information, described in general terms, may be inspected, obtained, tested, copied, or photographed during specified reasonable times; and
(b) make available to opposing counsel at the time specified such material and information and suitable facilities or other arrangements for inspection, testing, copying, and photographing of such material and information.
(a) The obligations of the prosecuting attorney and of the defense attorney under these standards extend to material and information in the possession or control of members of the attorney’s staff and of any others who either regularly report to or, with reference to the particular case, have reported to the attorney’s office
(b) The prosecutor should make reasonable efforts to ensure that material and information relevant to the defendant and the offense charged is provided by investigative personnel to the prosecutor’s office.
(c) If the prosecution is aware that information which would be discoverable if in the possession of the prosecution is in the possession or control of a government agency not reporting directly to the prosecution, the prosecution should disclose the fact of the existence of such information to the defense.
(d) Upon a party’s request for, and designation of, material or information which would be discoverable if in the possession or control of the other party and which is in the possession or control of others, the party from whom the material is requested should use diligent good faith efforts to cause such material to be made available to the opposing party. If the party’s efforts are unsuccessful and such material or others are subject to the jurisdiction of the court, the court should issue suitable subpoenas or orders to cause such material to be made available to the party making the request.
(e) Upon a showing that items not covered in the foregoing standards are material to the preparation of the case, the court may order disclosure of the specified material or information.
PART V. DEPOSITIONS
(a) After an indictment of information upon which a defendant is to be tried is filed, upon motion of the defense or the prosecution, the court may order a deposition taken to perpetuate the testimony of a prospective material witness if the court finds that there is reason to believe that the witness will be unable to be present and to testify at trial because of serious illness or other comparably serious reason, and that it is necessary to take the witness’s deposition to prevent a failure of justice. The motion should be verified or the grounds for the motion supported by the affidavit.
(b) In the order for the deposition, the court may also require that any designated books, papers, documents, or tangible objects, not privileged, be produced at the time and place of the deposition.
(c) The court should make provision for the defendant to be present at the taking of the deposition and should make such other provisions as are necessary to preserve the defendant’s right to confrontation of witnesses.
(d) A deposition so taken and any evidentiary material produced at such deposition may be introduced in evidence at trial, subject to applicable rules of evidence. However, no deposition taken under this section should be used or read in evidence when the attendance of the deposed witness can be procured, except for the purpose of contradicting or impeaching the testimony of the deponent.
(a) On motion of either the prosecution or the defense, the court should order the taking of a deposition upon oral examination of any person other than the defendant, concerning information relevant to the offense charged, but only upon a showing that:
(i) the name of the person sought to be deposed has been disclosed to the movant by the opposing party through the exchange of names and addresses of witnesses or has been discovered during the movant’s investigation of the case; and.
(ii) no writing, summarizing the relevant knowledge of the person sought to be deposed, adequate to prevent surprise at trial, has been furnished to the movant; and
(iii) the movant has taken reasonable steps to obtain a voluntary oral or written statement from the witness, but the witness has refused to cooperate in giving a voluntary statement; and
(iv) the taking of a deposition is necessary in the interests of justice.
(b) The defendant may not be present at the deposition unless the court orders otherwise for good cause shown.
(c) The procedure for taking a discovery deposition, including the scope of the examination, should be in accordance with express rules to e written for depositions in criminal proceedings.
(d) Unless otherwise stipulated by the parties, a discovery deposition should be admissible at a trial or hearing only for the purpose of contradicting or impeaching the testimony of the deponent as a witness.
(e) A person whose deposition is sought should have the right to move to quash on the ground that compliance would subject the person to an undue burden, or would require the disclosure of material that is privileged or otherwise protected from disclosure, or would otherwise be unreasonable.
PART VI. GENERAL PROVISIONS GOVERNING DISCOVERY
(a) Disclosure should not be required of legal research or of records, correspondence, reports, or memoranda to the extent that they contain the opinions, theories, or conclusions of the prosecuting attorney or the defense attorney, or members of the attorney’s legal staff.
(b) Disclosure of an informant’s identity should not be required where such identity is a prosecution secret and where a failure to disclose will not infringe the constitutional rights of the defendant. Disclosure should not be denied of the identity of witnesses to be produced at a hearing or trial.
(c) Disclosure should not be required where it involves a substantial risk of grave prejudice to national security and where a failure to disclose will not infringe the constitutional rights of the defendant. Disclosure should not be denied regarding witnesses or material to be produced at a hearing or trial.
(d) Disclosure should not be required from the defense of any communications of the defendant, or of any other materials which are protected from disclosure by the state or federal constitutions, statutes or other law.
(e) The court should have the authority to deny, delay, or otherwise condition disclosure authorized by these standards if it finds that there is substantial risk to any person of physical harm, intimidation, or bribery resulting from such disclosure which outweighs any usefulness of the disclosure.
The fact that a party has indicated during the discovery process an intention to offer specified evidence or to call a specified witness is not admissible in evidence at a hearing or trial.
Neither the counsel for the parties nor other prosecution or defense personnel should advise persons (other than the defendant) who have relevant material or information to refrain from discussing the case with opposing counsel or showing opposing counsel any relevant material, nor should they otherwise impede opposing counsel’s investigation of the case.
Any materials furnished to an attorney pursuant to these standards should be used only for the purposes of preparation and trial of the case, and should be subject to such other terms and conditions as the court may provide.
Upon a showing of cause, the court may at any time order that specified disclosures be restricted, conditioned upon compliance with protective measures, or deferred, or make such other order as is appropriate, provided that all material and information to which a party is entitled is disclosed in sufficient time to permit counsel to make beneficial use of the disclosure.
When some parts of material or information are discoverable under these standards and other parts are not discoverable, the discoverable parts should be disclosed. The disclosing party should give notice that nondiscoverable parts have been withheld and the nondiscoverable parts should be sealed, preserved in the records of the court, and made available to the appellate court in the event of an appeal.
Upon request of any person, the court may permit any showing of cause for denial or regulation of disclosures, or any portion of such showing, to be made in camera. A record should be made of both in court and in camera proceedings. Upon the entry of an order granting relief following a showing in camera, all confidential portions of the in camera portion of the showing should be sealed, preserved in the records of the court, and made available to the appellate court in the event of an appeal.
PART VII. SANCTIONS
(a) If an applicable discovery rule or an order issued pursuant thereto is not promptly implemented, the court should do one or more of the following:
(i) order the noncomplying party to permit the discovery of the material and information not previously disclosed;
(ii) grant a continuance;
(iii) prohibit the party from calling a witness or introducing into evidence the material not disclosed, subject to the defendant’s right to present a defense and provided that the exclusion does not work an injustice either to the prosecution or the defense; and/or
(iv) enter such other order as it deems just under the circumstances.
(b) The court may subject counsel to appropriate sanctions, including a finding of contempt, upon a finding that counsel willfully violated a discovery rule or order.
Copyright American Bar Association.