The Champion

July 2009 , Page 38 

Search the Champion Looking for something specific?

Preview of Member Only Content

For full access: login or Become a Member Join Now

Trial by Ambush Should Be a Two-Way Street: The Federal Notice-of-Alibi Rule and Mandatory Disclosure of Defense Witnesses

By W. Carl Lietz III

The phrase “trial by ambush” succinctly and accurately describes what it is often like to defend a criminal case in federal court. Although federal discovery rules require the government to make available documents and other items the government intends to utilize in its case-in-chief at trial, with the exception of expert witnesses, the government is not required to identify the individuals it will call as witnesses at trial.1 Moreover, when the government calls a witness to testify, it is not required to produce prior statements provided by the witness until after the witness testifies.2 Consequently, since many cases in federal court are based primarily upon witness testimony, it is not unusual for a criminal defense attorney to turn to his client after the government calls a witness and ask, “Who is that?”

Many criminal defense attorneys enjoy the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants experience that this scenario provides. It is challenging. It can be exciting. And in the end, it makes the

Want to read more?

The Champion archive is reserved for NACDL members.

NACDL members, please login to read the rest of this article.
login

Not a member? Join now.
Join Now
Or click here to see an overview of NACDL Member benefits.

See what NACDL members say about us.

To read the current issue of The Champion in its entirety, click here.

  • Media inquiries: Contact NACDL's Director of Public Affairs & Communications Ivan J. Dominguez at 202-465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org
  • Academic Requests: Full articles of The Champion Magazine are available for academic and research purposes in the WestLaw and LexisNexis databases.

In This Section

Advertisement Advertise with Us
ad