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The Champion

March 2012 , Page 7 

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Discovery Reform: The Time for Action Is at Hand (Inside NACDL)

By Norman L. Reimer

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Last year NACDL took tangible steps to ensure that an accused person has prompt access to favorable information, at least in federal criminal proceedings. The NACDL Board of Directors adopted a model statute crafted by the Task Force on Discovery Reform to create a new statutory obligation to put teeth into a constitutional obligation that has been circumvented with alarming frequency.1 Those efforts are about to bear fruit. Before describing the emerging developments, it is important to put this issue into context. Brady violations, i.e., the suppression of favorable evidence, are merely the most egregious example of a far more pervasive problem in the nation’s criminal justice system.

It is long past time to reform the narrow and constrictive discovery practices that typify criminal defense practice in most of the nation. Trial by ambush practices that leave the defense clueless as to the identity, background and reliability of key witnesses until the eve of trial, or la

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