The Albany Times Union ran an oped today by Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project and Tina Luongo, attorney-in-charge of the criminal defense practice for The Legal Aid Society, calling for lawmakers in Albany to fix New York’s broken criminal discovery rules.
In the piece, Scheck and Luongo note that prosecutors routinely fail to provide defense attorneys with a vast array of evidence until a trial actually begins, significantly hindering their ability to properly advise their clients and develop an effective case. While district attorneys argue that maintaining these restrictive discovery rules is the only way to protect witnesses and ensure that victims will report crimes, 35 states – including Texas, North Carolina, New Jersery and Florida – have open discovery rules that require prosecutors to turn over police reports, names of witnesses and witness statements much earlier in the process. Prosecutors in these states support the laws because they are fairer and more efficient.
Scheck and Luongo conclude, “Albany must choose fair play and reject baseless contentions that New York is some special place where prosecutors need advantages not enjoyed by their colleagues across the country. Discovery reform is an idea whose time has finally come. Let’s not lose the opportunity to do it right.”
“Albany must choose fair play and reject baseless contentions that New York is some special place where prosecutors need advantages not enjoyed by their colleagues across the country.”
Read the full op-ed here.