Covered by NYDaily News. Las Vegas man accused of threatening a prominent attorney and making vile remarks.
Covered by New York Times, and other outlets. Fake heiress accused of conning the city’s wealthy, and has an HBO special being made about her.
Accused of stalking Alec Baldwin. The case garnered nationwide attention, with USAToday, NYPost, and other media outlets following it closely.
Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.
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Discovery is the process of obtaining evidence and information about a case from the opposing party prior to trial. While typically associated with prosecutors providing evidence to the defense, discovery obligations also apply to criminal defendants in many jurisdictions. This article will examine the key laws and principles governing criminal defense discovery.
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16(b) contains the main obligations for federal criminal defense discovery. It requires defendants to provide discovery if they request discovery from prosecutors and applies in several key situations:
If the defense asks to inspect documents or objects in the prosecution’s possession, they must provide access to documents and objects they intend to use at trial. This allows both sides to examine evidence like murder weapons.
The defense must disclose reports of any mental or physical exams and scientific tests they intend to use at trial. This includes psychological evaluations of a defendant’s mental state.
For any expert witnesses, the defense must provide a summary of their qualifications and expected testimony. This allows prosecutors to prepare for technical testimony.
If asserting an alibi defense, the defense must disclose their alibi witnesses. This prevents last-minute surprises at trial.
Documents and objects must be produced no later than 30 days before trial, while summaries and notices must be provided by the court’s deadline. Late disclosures can be excluded from trial.
Courts can impose sanctions for failure to comply with discovery, ranging from fines and fees to excluding evidence or testimony. Severe violations can result in jail time or overturning convictions.
While federal discovery rules provide a baseline, individual states have their own laws and interpretations that defense lawyers must follow. Some key differences include:
While reciprocal discovery creates obligations, skilled defense lawyers use various strategies to control disclosures:
While defense discovery varies by jurisdiction, some common categories of evidence that may need to be disclosed include:
Deciding what evidence to disclose involves key strategic choices:
While most discovery focuses on prosecutors, criminal defendants also face duties to disclose evidence in discovery. Defense lawyers must carefully navigate discovery rules and strategically manage evidence disclosures. Done effectively, this allows defendants to achieve the best outcomes in plea negotiations or at trial. Though reciprocal discovery creates challenges, skilled defense attorneys can still uphold their duty of zealous advocacy despite obligations to share some information.
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