September 18, 2019 Top Story

State Overhauls Criminal Discovery Rules

Early production of evidence will allow defendants to make informed decisions

By Laura W. Givens

The New York State Senate passed new discovery laws that will require prosecutors to turn over critical evidence to the accused at earlier stages of the criminal process. Bill S1716 is expected to be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and will take effect 90 days thereafter. ABA Section of Litigation leaders believe this is a step in the right direction for fairness and efficiency in criminal proceedings.

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New Criminal Discovery Requirements

New York’s new procedures will eliminate the need for sending discovery requests and require certain automatic discovery. At the defendant’s first court appearance, the prosecution will be required to disclose to the defendant any law enforcement reports and written witness statements, electronic recordings, and exculpatory information. The prosecution must perform its initial discovery obligations within 15 days after the defendant’s arraignment on an indictment.

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