The federal system and most states allow prosecutors to withhold evidence needed by the defense. To encourage reforms, NACDL has adopted two model bills: one prescribing open-file discovery and another clarifying the Brady rule by requiring the disclosure of all favorable evidence.
Legislation & Policy
- State Legislative Victories
- Federal Reform Legislation
- Reform Proposals
- Pending Legislation
- Department of Justice Policies
- Reports & Research
- The Champion Brady Issue
- Interview with Senator Stevens' Counsel
- NACDL's "America Needs Sensible Discovery Reform" Webcast
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
- Trying to Stem the Tide: Closing the Door on Social Media Evidence
Criminal Procedure: The Due Process Protection Act: How Rule 5(f) Came to Be
and Where Do We Go from Here?
Rule 5(f)(1) requires judges to inform prosecutors of their obligation to produce exculpatory information and provides that courts may hold prosecutors accountable if they do not comply with a Brady order. Rule 5(f)(2) requires that each circuit council promulgate a Model Order that a district court “may use as it determines is appropriate.”
NACDL Releases Model Order Pursuant to the Due Process Protections Act
The amended Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 5 requires that in all criminal proceedings, at the first scheduled court date at which both the prosecutor and defense counsel are present, the judge must issue an order confirming the prosecutor’s disclosure obligations under Brady v. Maryland. Defense lawyers should consider NACDL’s Model Standing Order on the Prosecution’s Brady Obligations.
- From the President: Unable to Bear the Weight of the ‘Document Dump’: A Heavy Burden on Individuals
News Release ~ 04/01/2019
Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Welcomes Criminal Justice Reforms Adopted by the State of New York -- Washington, DC (Apr. 1, 2019) – On Sunday, March 31, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Senate and Assembly reached agreement concerning multiple, significant pretrial criminal justice reforms as part of the state’s FY 2020 budget package. These changes will take effect in 2020. The reforms concern speedy access to trial, discovery in criminal cases, and bail and pretrial release.
News Release ~ 09/06/2018
Supreme Court of Virginia Overhauls Criminal Discovery Rules; Major Victory for Broad, Bipartisan Coalition of Criminal Justice Reformers – Washington, DC (Sept. 6, 2018) – Late yesterday, Sept. 5, 2018, the Supreme Court of Virginia issued amended criminal discovery rules set to take effect July 1, 2019, marking the first such overhaul in decades. Specifically, the Court issued amended Rules 3A:11 (Discovery and Inspection) and 3A:12 (Subpoena) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia.
News Release ~ 01/17/2018
Department of Justice Successfully Blocks Public Access to Its Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book – Washington, D.C. (Jan. 17, 2018) – Earlier today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed notice of its decision not to appeal the release of an extremely limited portion of its Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book. The portion of the Blue Book that the Court found was not work product was a tiny fraction – what amounts to not much more than a handful of pages – out of a manual that contains at least 265 pages.
- "Judge cuts sentence after defense lawyer claims 'shady shenanigans' by federal prosecutor,"
- "Dallas prosecutor disbarred for withholding evidence that could have cleared men of murder charges,"
- "Prosecutors Wrongfully Convicted Three Men Who Spent 24 Years Behind Bars. Will They Be Disbarred?,"