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Using Rule 17(c) to Obtain Materials From Third Parties

Rule 17 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides the only means for a criminal defendant to obtain materials from third parties. Despite its broad language, the courts’ application of Rule 17 over the years has seriously limited its usefulness. Marci LaBranche and Carey Bell discuss problems with how the rule has been applied, the current state of Rule 17(c) practice, and how to make a record that encourages change.