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
Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book
NACDL sued the Justice Department seeking disclosure of its Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book. This publication reportedly covers the law, policy, and practice of prosecutors’ disclosure obligations. The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision that the publication is protected work product. See the pleadings.
NACDL Report on Discovery Enforcement in the Courts
On November 17, 2014, NACDL released Material Indifference: How Courts Are Impeding Fair Disclosure in Criminal Cases, a major study produced jointly with the VERITAS Initiative at Santa Clara Law School.
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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.
- "New York City Lawyers and Police Prepare for Evidence Changes,"
- "Stay the course on criminal justice reform: Discovery reform will level the playing field for defendants,"
- "Commentary: New Data Types Challenge E-Discovery to Keep Pace,"