Criminal Discovery of Jencks Witness Statements: Timing Makes a Difference
57 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2009
Date Written: November 22, 1999
This article, written in 1999, reflects on the timing of federal criminal discovery, specifically witness statements held by prosecutors. It initially examines the Jencks case, the Jencks Act, and Rule 26.2 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. It describes a survey conducted by the author that examined practice throughout the United States in providing Jencks material to defense counsel in federal criminal cases. Although it was found that most prosecutors provide materials to the defense in advance of the witness testifying, the survey also showed the lack of uniformity in the discovery process. The defense is placed at a serious disadvantage, especially in white collar cases, when they receive discovery late in the trial. This article argues that in order for the prosecution and defense to be “fairly evenly matched,” the discovery process needs to be opened.
Keywords: criminal discovery, Jencks, witness statements, federal criminal procedure
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation