Discovery Reform

Many recent cases have exposed the fact that federal Gavelprosecutors, whether through negligence or by design, all too often fail to abide by their constitutional duty to disclose favorable information to the defense. This is exacerbated by grossly inadequate state discovery statutes. NACDL has undertaken a number of research and advocacy projects to support reform in this area.  NACDL is likewise supporting the efforts of its state affiliates -- through advocacy, resources, and model legislation -- to enact fairer discovery rules and legislation.

In 2014, NACDL’s Board of Directors has approved a model open-file discovery law to promote nationwide discovery reform and improve the fairness of criminal justice systems by ensuring that the defense receives, promptly after arraignment and before entry of any guilty plea, all information generated during the law enforcement and prosecutorial investigation of a charged offense. Developed by NACDL’s Discovery Reform Task Force, the model law is the product of extensive research, discussion, and revision, and is drawn from best-practice provisions around the country.

In 2012, NACDL’s Board of Directors approved model legislation, developed by NACDL’s Discovery Reform Task Force, that would require disclosure of all evidence favorable to the accused, regardless of any assessment of whether the evidence was material.  This approach is embodied in the Fairness in Disclosure of Evidence Act, federal legislation introduced in 2012 by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), with bipartisan co-sponsorship and support from broad coalition ranging from the ACLU to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

News Of Interest

"When miscarriages of justice occur, prosecutors must answer for actions," The Boston Globe, October 19, 2014.

"Calif. prosecutors opt for freeing accused murderers instead of transparency," by Radley Balko, The Washington Post, October 15, 2014.

"Judge: no retrial of murder suspects due to prosecutor's misconduct," by Mansah M. Dean, Philadelphia Daily News, October 10, 2014.

"Laws still lacking to prevent what happened to Sen. Ted Stevens," by Rob Cary, Alaska Dispatch News, October 1, 2014.

"Brown vetoes bills on prosecution misconduct, drones, OKs lower crack sentences," by Bob Egelko, The San Francisco Chronicle, September 29, 2014.

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